SpaceX Rocket On Collision Course With The Moon

Cameron Frew

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SpaceX Rocket On Collision Course With The Moon

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

An out-of-control SpaceX rocket is going to hit the moon at more than 5,700mph.

There's been scores of disastrous rocket launches in mankind's history of trying to touch the star: in 2003, an explosion at Brazil's spaceport killed 21 people; in 2010, Russia's attempt to launch three satellites inside a Proton-M rocket saw the payload crash into the Pacific Ocean; and back in 1986, the infamous Challenger tragedy took the lives of all seven crew members.

On this occasion, no human is in harm's way. However, the moon is staring down the barrel of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket for a collision six years in the making.

The moon isn't in any danger. (Alamy)
The moon isn't in any danger. (Alamy)

In February 2015, a Falcon 9 lifted off carrying the NOAA's Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite on a journey to the Sun-Earth LaGrange point, more than one million kilometres from the Earth, as Ars Technica reports.

However, the rocket's second stage became derelict when it no longer had enough fuel to return to Earth's atmosphere, as well as lacking the energy to escape the gravity of the Earth-Moon system, leaving it in a volatile orbit.

Bill Gray, who writes software to track near-Earth objects, asteroids, minor planets and comets, believes the rocket will crash into the far side of the moon as soon as March, according to his report. This comes after he put a call out to amateur and professional astronomers to provide additional observations.

'With all the data, we've got a certain impact at 2022 March 4 12:25:39 latitude +4.93, east longitude 233.20, plus or minus a few seconds and a few kilometres... this is the first unintentional case [of space junk hitting the moon] of which I am aware,' he wrote, conceding that it'll be difficult to track the exact spot it crashes due to sunlight 'pushing' on the rocket and 'ambiguity in measuring rotation periods'.

'These unpredictable effects are very small. But they will accumulate between now and 2022 March 4, and we'd really like to determine the impact location as precisely as possible,' Gray added.

While it'd be fun to put our feet up and watch a rocket smash into the moon, it's more likely that the event will go unobserved. 'Certainly from Earth, since the bulk of the moon is in the way, and even if it were on the near side, the impact occurs a couple of days after New Moon,' he wrote.

Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at Harvard University, backed the impact on March 4, but said it's 'not a big deal'.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

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Topics: Technology, Space, SpaceX, Science

Cameron Frew
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