State Department Once Thought Auto Parts Were 'Spaceballs,' 1970s Cables Show

State Department officials turned the spaceballs over to NASA for examination.

By SHARE
 This image provided by NASA/JPL-Caltech shows a simulation of asteroid 2012 DA14 approaching from the south as it passes through the Earth-moon system on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013.
This image provided by NASA/JPL-Caltech shows a simulation of asteroid 2012 DA14 approaching from the south as it passes through the Earth-moon system on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. The 150-foot object passed within 17,000 miles of the Earth.

Newly released diplomatic cables from the 1970s reveal that the State Department once believed that old automobile parts were actually fragments that fell from space

Officials excitedly relayed the discovery of space debris found in New Zealand to the Secretary of State, NASA and the Department of Defense, according to the cables, which were acquired by transparency group MuckRock in a Freedom of Information Request shared with Whispers.

[READ: Fossil Older Than Oxygen on Earth Found in Australia]

"Two apparent space fragments have been located in New Zealand... both are spherical, perhaps pressure vessels, bear no identifying marks, and caused no physical or personal damage upon impact," an unnamed official from the U.S. Embassy in Wellington, New Zealand wrote in a cable marked "secret" and "immediate," and addressed to the Secretary of State. The official also reported that the "space balls" had been initially picked up by local farmers.

In another cable, addressed from the Secretary of State's office, it was noted that NASA would review the objects, as the fragments could have been related to the recent launch of an Intelsat spacecraft. But the same cable noted rather drily that NASA had "only marginal interest" in the objects.

[ALSO: Ancient Meteorite Reveals Mars Had Lots of Water]

All of the cables were marked with the subject line "Moondust," because they were part of a classified government project called "Project Moondust," intended to handle the recovery of space fragments launched by another countries.

In a third cable, this time sent from the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, it was noted that a specialist had identified the space objects as likely "old, melted down automobile transmission parts" but noted that if he turned out to be wrong, the embassy would be notified. No documents were released to MuckRock to suggest the objects were in fact intergalactic.

More News:

  • Cable From 1974 Refers to Thatcher As 'Best Man' in Conservative Party
  • WikiLeaks Email Dump Shows Wasted Drone Efforts
  • Meet the Man Who Owns the Moon