updated 9/16/2004 8:51:47 PM ET 2004-09-17T00:51:47

A large piece of space shuttle Columbia debris was found recently in southeast Texas, a NASA official said.

The 6-foot-long piece of the crew compartment was discovered two weeks ago in Newton County by a wildlife biologist, sheriffs officials said.

Bruce Buckingham, a Kennedy Space Center spokesman, confirmed Wednesday that the piece discovered two weeks ago was from the shuttle’s crew compartment area and contains a hinged window.

NASA had not yet picked up the piece, which had bright green moss growing over one section of the window.

The biologist, Jason Sebesta, said he found it in a water runoff area near a lodge owned by his company.

The Columbia broke apart over Texas on Feb. 1, 2003, killing all seven astronauts aboard. Tens of thousands of pieces of the shuttle fell on Texas and Louisiana.

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