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European rocket debris found in Florida Keys

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Posted at 7:45 AM, Jul 09, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-09 03:46:44-04

KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) - Shark researchers in the Florida Keys caught something unusual: a piece of a European space rocket.

Wes Pratt of the Mote Marine Tropical Research Laboratory says he found the rocket debris Thursday in the Dry Tortugas about 70 miles west of Key West.

A Dry Tortugas National Park ranger towed the debris weighing several hundred pounds to Fort Jefferson. Park manager Glenn Simpson traced labels on the debris to the European space consortium Arianespace.

Washington-based Arianespace spokesman Aaron Lewis tells The Miami Herald (http://hrld.us/18JghQ7 ) that the debris came from an Ariane 5 rocket. The rockets are supposed to break up after launch and sink into the Atlantic far from shore.

Simpson says the debris will remain on display temporarily, but the park hopes Arianespace will claim it.