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A long lost booster section from Apollo 12 has apparently reentered Earth orbit, for the time being at least. NASA’s Near Earth Object Program has found that a mysterious object labelled J002E3 was likely recaptured into Earth orbit in April of this year, and originally left Earth orbit in March of 1971. Their conclusions:

The timing of the object’s escape is consistent with our theory that this object is the Apollo 12 S-IVB third stage, which was left in a distant Earth orbit after it was launched on November 14, 1969 and passed the Moon four days later. We theorize that the spent rocket orbited the Earth chaotically for 15 months before finding the exit pathway through the L1 portal. The excellent match between the intrinsic brightness of J002E3 and that expected for a rocket stage of the S-IVB’s size also supports this theory. The other four S-IVB stages still flying (those from Apollos 8 through 11) have been dismissed as suspects because they entered solar orbit much earlier than March 1971.

The ultimate fate of the object appears to be again to leave Earth orbit through a Lagrange point in June of 2003, perhaps to loop around the solar system for thirty more years before paying us a visit.