Graphic shows details of the strike.
GN42324EN

SPACE

Rocket to hit moon was built by China, not SpaceX

By Jordi Bou

March 4, 2022 - A spent Chinese rocket – initially misidentified as a booster built by SpaceX – is on a collision course with the moon, the first time that a piece of “space junk” will unintentionally strike the lunar surface.

Bill Gray, an astronomer and the developer of the asteroid tracking software Project Pluto, initially identified the errant space junk as the upper stage of a Falcon 9 rocket.

But after reassessing the data, Gray believes that the booster for the rocket stage of a Long March 3C rocket is the object set to to smash into the moon traveling at roughly 9,288km/h on March 4.

The Chinese Chang’e 5-T1 mission was launched in October 2014 on a Long March 3C rocket. The launch time and lunar trajectory are almost an exact match for the orbit of the object that will hit the moon in March.

Gray says he expects the rocket to hit the moon in the 520km-wide Hertzsprung crater, on the far side of the moon, at a velocity of 9,288km/h.

Observation of the subsurface material ejected by the collision could provide valuable scientific data.

Sources
PUBLISHED: 15/02/2022; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: NASA
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