A SpaceX rocket ran out of fuel and decided to crash into the moon instead. According to astronomer Jonathan McDowell, this will be the first uncontrolled rocket crash into the moon.
SpaceX Rocket Falcon 9 Launched in 2015, Can’t Go Home
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster went into orbit in 2015. However, it did not have enough fuel to set a course to Earth. As a result, the SpaceX Rocket will instead crash into the moon and explode.
However, McDowell assumes that the effect of the crash will be minor. The rocket encountered a lot of gravitational forces from the earth, the moon, and the sun.
This made its path somewhat “Chaotic,” according to McDowell, who works at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “It’s been dead – just following the laws of gravity,” he added.
SpaceX abandoned the rocket in high orbit seven years ago. It successfully completed its mission to launch a space-weather satellite via a journey of a million miles. SpaceX is banking on getting people to live on other planets in the future.
Surrounded By Space Junk
In addition, millions of pieces of space debris litter space along with the SpaceX rocket. Most are machinery disposed of by astronauts after completing missions without fuel to return to Earth.
“Over the decades there have been maybe 50 large objects that we’ve totally lost track of. This may have happened a bunch of times before, we just didn’t notice. This would be the first confirmed case,” McDowell noted.
Without enough fuel to return to Earth, astronomers estimate the Falcon 9 to crash on March 4.
Ars Technica journalist Lars Berger made the calculations. “It’s basically a four-tonne empty metal tank, with a rocket engine on the back. And so if you imagine throwing that at a rock at 5,000 miles an hour, it’s not going to be happy,” McDowell added. He estimated that the moon crash will result in a small artificial crater on the surface.
Close Call Last January 5
Bill Gray, a scientist who uses software to track near-Earth space objects, said the SpaceX rocket made a close fly-by last January 5. He confirmed that March 4 is the date where Falcon 9 will likely hit the moon’s far side.
In addition, McDowell also said that they won’t learn anything from this crash. He added that even as there are no consequences on space debris now, there could be lots in the future.
In the future when there are multiple space bases and cities, everybody will want to know what’s out there. Besides, it’s easier to organize space debris now since there’s low traffic. We shouldn’t wait until it’s a problem.
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Watch the ABC News video segment reporting that the SpaceX rocket segment is on course to hit the moon:
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