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SpaceX rocket debris found in Washington state after streaks in night sky

The discovery of the debris comes after a stunning display in the night sky over the Pacific Northwest that experts said was a rocket stage burning up.
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Part of a SpaceX rocket was discovered in Washington state last weekend, days after bright comet-like streaks lit up the night sky over the Pacific Northwest, a sheriff's official said.

The space company recovered the "composite-overwrapped pressure vessel from last week’s Falcon 9 re-entry," the Grant County Sheriff's Office tweeted Friday.

The vessel, which was about 5 feet tall, was found on private property in southwestern Grant County, in the center of the state, last weekend.

There was no damage, and it left a 4- to 5-inch impact mark in the ground, said Kyle Foreman, a public information officer for the sheriff's department. SpaceX was notified Monday and arrived Tuesday to recover it, he said.

Where exactly it fell was not disclosed. "Media and treasure hunters: we are not disclosing specifics. The property owner simply wants to be left alone," the sheriff's office said in the tweet. The Tri-City Herald newspaper reports it fell on a farmer's field.

On March 25, streaks lit up the sky over Washington and Oregon. Some thought they were from a meteor or comet.

SpaceX does not appear to have ever publicly confirmed that its rocket was involved. But signs quickly pointed that way.

The National Weather Service in Seattle tweeted that based on unofficial information, "the widely reported bright objects in the sky were the debris from a Falcon 9 rocket 2nd stage that did not successfully have a deorbit burn." An astronomer told NBC affiliate KING of Seattle it was Falcon 9 rocket debris.

SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment Friday night.

There have been no reports of damage from the Match 25 event. No other reports of debris have been made to the Grant County Sheriff's Office, Foreman said.

The Falcon 9 is a reusable two-stage rocket. The second stage delivers the payload. The first stage is designed to return to Earth and land. There have been 111 Falcon 9 launches with 71 landings so far, according to the company's website.

Foreman said his understanding is that the pressure vessel that was found is used for the storage of helium.