Wayward SpaceX rocket booster set to crash on moon in March | Science and technology news
According to experts, part of an old SpaceX rocket is set to crash on the moon in March.
Elon Musk’s space company’s Falcon 9 booster has been drifting since February 2015 when it helped launch a weather satellite.
It is now expected to hit the moon at 2.58 km/s on March 4, according to Bill Gray – a data analyst who tracks near-Earth objects.
He said it’s the “first unintentional instance” of space junk hitting the moon that he’s aware of.
Harvard University astrophysicist Jonathan Dowell confirmed the expected collision.
“For those asking, yes, an old Falcon 9 second stage left in high orbit in 2015 will hit the moon on March 4th. It’s interesting but no big deal,” he tweeted.
The moment of impact will not be observable as it is expected to hit the far side of the moon.
“Most of the moon is in the way, and even if it were on the near side, the impact occurs a few days after new moon,” Mr. Gray said on his blog.
However, he said there will be a brief window of visibility of a day or two in early February when it will be “bright, close and fast.”
These final observations should allow experts to refine the point of impact to about a kilometer, possibly better, and the new crater could allow scientists to learn about the geology of this part of the moon.
In addition to large pieces of space junk like the Falcon booster, there are about 23,000 pieces of debris larger than a softball that are orbiting the Earth at speeds of up to 17,500 miles per hour, according to NASA.
There are growing concerns that they may one day endanger a spacecraft.