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.
"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.
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.