Rogue rocket to hit Moon misidentified — Analysis

An out-of-control rocket expected to hit the Moon in early March wasn’t built by SpaceX, an astronomer has said

American Astronomer Bill Gray had previously claimed that the stage of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket would hit the Moon March 4. However, Gray and his colleague now admit that they misidentified it.

The honor of causing what appears to be the first-ever accidental lunar impact won’t go to Elon Musk, but to China, according to the scientist, who tracks asteroids and other objects sailing throughout the Solar System.

“I (mis)identified this object… We now have good evidence that it is actually 2014-065B, the booster for the Chang’e 5-T1 lunar mission,”Gray posted a correction to his blog Saturday.

But he said that the Chinese rocket launched in October 2014 would be returned to Earth. “still hit the moon within a few kilometers of the predicted spot on March 4, 2022.”

Gray said he decided to take another look at the object after receiving an email from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineer, Jon Giorgini, who pointed out that it most likely couldn’t have been a part of Falcon 9.

Out-of-control SpaceX rocket to smash into Moon, experts warn

According to Giorgini, the SpaceX rocket’s trajectory hadn’t taken it anywhere particularly close to the Moon, while it was also very unusual for a booster to end up so far away from the spacecraft.

For years, astronomers believed the piece of space junk tumbling at a chaotic orbit in the Earth-Moon system to be a part of the Falcon 9 spacecraft, which had been launched in February 2015 as part of SpaceX’s mission to send up the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s ‘Deep Space Climate Observatory’ satellite.

“So if this isn’t the SpaceX booster you thought it was, where is the SpaceX booster?”Gray was intrigued. 

The astronomer said that nobody had the right answer. “I don’t think SpaceX knows. If they did, they could have raised their hand in the last couple of weeks and said: ‘That’s not our rocket stage hitting the moon.’” 

It is important to track space junk more extensively at an international level. “many more spacecraft are now going into high orbits, and some of them will be taking crews to the moon. Such junk will no longer be merely an annoyance to a small group of astronomers,”He was very clear.

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