Thursday, January 27, 2022
US billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX-owned space rocket crashes into the moon.
The company launched the Falcon 9 booster rocket in 2015, but when its mission was completed it did not have enough fuel to return to Earth and instead swam in space.
Astronomer Jonathan McDowell told the BBC News that this would be the first collision of an uncontrolled rocket with the Moon.
McDowell explains that the impact of the collision will be small for the moon.
The company dropped the rocket into high-Earth orbit seven years ago after completing the task of sending a space meteorological satellite to travel a million miles.
The spacecraft aims to transport humans to other planets as part of the Musk SpaceX space exploration program.
Since 2015, the rocket has been subjected to different gravitational forces from the Earth, the Moon and the Sun, making its orbit somewhat “chaotic”, according to McDowell, a professor at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astronomy in the United States.
“The rocket is dead and it follows the laws of gravity,” McDowell added.
The rocket was joined by millions of other space debris, which was thrown into space when the missions were completed and did not have enough power to return to Earth.
Professor McDowell says: “For decades, 50 large objects may have been completely missing. This may have happened many times before, and we have not noticed. This is the first confirmed case.”
Journalist Eric Berger first reported on the possibility of a Falcon 9 rocket hitting the moon through space news website Ars Technica, using data analyst Bill Gray’s blog.
The collision is scheduled to take place on March 4, when the rocket explodes while touching the lunar surface.
“It’s basically an empty metal tank that weighs four tons and has a rocket motor in the back,” says Professor McDowell, “so if you throw it at a rock at 5,000 mph, it’s not good.”
The eruption will leave a small artificial abyss on the surface of the moon.
Data researcher Bill Gray uses software to track objects close to Earth, and on January 5 discovered a rocket flying close to the moon.
On March 4, he says, it will hit the far side of the moon.
In 2009, Professor McDowell and other astronomers tested a rocket of the same size to strike the moon. Scientists gathered evidence of the collision so that scientists could study its impact and the resulting crater.
Although the possibility of neglected space debris going into space and colliding has no consequences now, Professor McDowell explains that this could happen in the future.
“If we go to the future where there are cities and sites on the moon, we want to know what is out there,” he said. “With slower traffic in space it’s much easier to organize now. Do not wait until it becomes a problem.”
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