Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA) officials have joined police investigating metal pieces of unknown origin that fell from the sky following the sound of an explosion in the Thai-Lao border area of Ubon Ratchathani province early Wednesday morning.
The metal pieces were found in various areas in four villages of Tambon Na Pho Klang in Khong Chiam district.
Boonchub Bungthong, director of the Bangkok-based GISTDA satellite operations, said the metal pieces – two more of which were discovered on Thursday including a larger piece six metres in length – were probably parts of a rocket used to launch a satellite into orbit.
He said authorities had already contacted the United Nations, which records the details of countries’ rocket launches, to determine the country of origin, with the results expected in a week.
Boonchub said the “explosive sound” that villagers heard was probably a sonic boom created by the rocket components returning to Earth and breaking apart due to high speed and friction with the atmosphere after achieving an elevation exceeding 100 kilometres. He added that there should not be a radiation risk, because typically rockets were fuelled by hydrogen and liquid oxygen.
Boonchub also told people who found objects believed to have fallen to Earth to alert authorities.