NASA’s “Fragology Files” – Space Object Recovery and Analysis Records

(This page was originally published Jul 27, 2021. The date above is the last revision date.)


Back in late 1967/early 1968, NASA had transferred a cache of documents to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The transmittal slip, and index of records, labeled them as, “NASA Fragology Files consisting of reports of space objects recovery, analysis of fragments to determine national ownership and vehicle origin.”

In 1996, NARA had told NASA in the letter shown below, that the boxes of material transferred were “lost,” and they were marked as such even going back to 1987. The hunt for these records even generated a lawsuit by Leslie Kean (Kean v. NASA), but the records were never found.

This page setup by The Black Vault, archives the records available, and new FOIA requests have been filed in May of 2021 to have new searches done and see if with new personnel, technology upgrades, and the passage of time; records can be found. It has happened before.

July 2021 NASA Release

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In July of 2021, NASA released more than 220 pages of records on the Kean v. NASA lawsuit. This revealed numerous pages on Project Moon Dust, and the recovery of unknown fragments (most likely space debris / fallen satellites). However, what is interesting, is the Moon Dust related files that came up in my NASA request, which were Department of State records, did not come up in my FOIA request to the Department of State on Project Moon Dust. That, in itself, was a neat find, since Project Moon Dust files are hard to come by. (It should be noted, The Black Vault has not yet cross references other files released by DIA that yielded some Moon Dust files, though it does appear many of these records are not online.)

In addition to the Project Moon Dust and related files, NASA also released many of the communications in during the case with Kean and her attorneys. It was also revealed that despite those records surviving, an untold number of others were destroyed per NASA’s records retention schedules.

This page will be updated, when the above cases are complete.

Document Archive

Kean v. NASA

Court Documents [21 Pages, 0.2MB]

NASA Release – July 2021 – For ALL Records pertaining to the above lawsuit [222 Pages, 23MB]

NARA Records

NASA’s “Fragology Files” – Space Object Recovery and Analysis Records [40 Pages, 2.5MB]

In an attempt in 2021 to have NARA search again for the Fragology files, it failed. Per the letter below, you can see they attempted to see if the identifying accession number of 255-68A-2062, had a typo or was misidentified. However, seeking out portions of that number, also failed to find responsive records.

What is potentially new, is the fact that NARA seemingly confirms the “Fragology files” were never even transferred to them; not lost at NARA. I believe the going story was that the files were transferred decades ago, but were lost within NARA after the transfer. However, this letter, appears to now say they never got them in the first place.

Regardless of their true meaning or who truly lost them; the files are just gone.

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This post was published on October 13, 2021 5:20 am

John Greenewald

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