Mysterious debris emerges from sea in Norway. Piece of a Russian bomber or rocket?

Jul 08 2013 - 7 Comments

Some interesting as well as mysterious metal parts with Russian text have emerged from sea in the Salmon Bay, in Finnmark, in the extreme northeastern part of Norway, on Jun. 3.

According to the Norwegian TV2 website, the official explanation is that the wreck part belongs to the second stage of a rocket called Kosmos2486. The rocket was launched on Jun. 7 from Tlesetsk in Russia barely four days before the mysterious debris appeared on the surface of the sea.

However, several analysts disagree with the rocket theory for several reasons: first of all, the main part is a cylindrical container with a circumference of around nine meters with an oxygen bottle or fire extinguisher attached to it (something you don’t usually expect to be attached to an unmanned rocket). Then, there are signs of corrosion, suggesting that the metal parts may have been in the water for a long time.

Mysterious object 2

The object is about 3 meters wide and 3.5 to 4.5 meters in length and is curved. It shows signs of damages and torn parts on one side. Halfway through the curved suface there’s a pressure bottle, possibly a fire extinguisher or something similar. It sports Cyrillic inscriptions meaning that it is either Russian or made in Russia.

Mysterious object 4

Image credits: Bernt Nilsen/TV2.no

According to TV2, it could be an escape deck hatch of a Russian military plane, possibly a Tu-16 Badger, or a Tu-95 Bear engine nacelle.

Color of the wreckage (white) actually recalls the livery of the Tu-22 Backfire or Tu-16o Blackjack bombers.

Any clues?

H/T to Lars Korsmo for sending me the links to the story

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  • SashaShmel

    Not Tlesetsk , true is PLESETSK (military launch site in north Russia))

  • Elbee

    Its very hard to tell from the photos, but if it is an aircraft and not from a rocket, I think that is definitely a fire bottle, it seems a little small and so I assume that the rest is part of the engine cowl. Looking at pictures and comparing the latches and bulges, I think it may be off an Antonov Turboprop. Maybe AN-26, AN-12 (they crash all the time), or AN24. It looks like its been the water for a while,the paint is bubbling (maybe from heat?) and corrosion is apparent, but I don’t think its been in the ocean for too long though.

  • Elbee
    • OG_Locc

      Good find. Definitely from the Soyuz. You can see the little dome and various shrouds right there below the blue globe logo, especially when you view the image full size.

  • Ano N. Ymous

    It’s from the rocket all right. The radius of a Soyuz-2 second stage is 2.95 meters, which works out to a circumference of 9.27 meters. Soyuz-2 is liquid fuelled, and requires small pressure containers to provide pressurization gas to main fuel tanks as the fuel is consumed. Without pressurization the tanks would crumble upon the force of the rocket motor when they no longer had enough fuel in them to support them from the inside. (This setup saves weight compared to tanks strong enough to stand against the force on their own right.) The second stage actually enters space before falling back down, the heat from the re-entry into the atmosphere would explain any burn marks such as bubbling paint while the dynamic stresses from that and/or the stage hitting the water would explain how the part got teared apart. While liquid oxygen, which is used in Soyuz-2, is not the most corrosive of rocket oxidizers in use, any additional corrosion could also be explained if this was not in fact from Kosmos 2486 launch, but from an earlier one.

    There’s also the very clearly visible markings on the fittings for the gas cylinder, markings that should be well documented by the Russian launch authority and should give them the ability to exactly identify parts. Adding to that that the technology in these rockets is old and Russia actually exports more modern technology to the US (in the form of RD-180 rocket engines for the Atlas V rockets) I see no reason to doubt the official identification.

  • Steve Fortson

    I added this to a message board (properly quoted and attributed) to see if we could figure out what it might be. One of the members found 14C738 written on part of the debris. On a NASA discussion the comment is made “The previous Persona was encapsulated in a 14С738 fairing, whereas all Fregat launches have been 81КС.” So it appears that it definitely is from a rocket.

  • Mike

    14С738 is referring to an assembly-protection block from РН 14А14 (сборочно-защитный блок РН 14А14 с КА 14Ф137). РН 14А14 is Soyuz-2, GRAU index 14A14.