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Elon Musk's abandoned rocket on collision course with Moon

Experts however said, if it happened, it will not be for the first time when space junk would crash into Moon

Thursday January 27, 2022 6:20 PM, ummid.com with inputs from Agencies

SpaceX collission with Moon

Washington: A chunk of Elon Musk owned SpaceX rocket that blasted off seven years ago and was abandoned in space after completing its mission will crash into the Moon in March, experts say.

Experts however said, if it happened, it will not be for the first time when space junk would crash into Moon.

The experts also said that the impact of the chunk of SpaceX rocket, which weighs four tonnes, on the Moon will not be visible from Earth in realtime.

Depolyed 7-year before

The rocket was deployed in 2015 to put into orbit a NASA satellite called the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR). Since then, the second stage of the rocket, or booster, has been floating in what mathematicians call a chaotic orbit, news agency AFP quoted astronomer Bill Gray as saying Wednesday.

Also Read | Astronauts rush to safety as space junk whizz by

It was Gray who calculated the space junk’s new collision course with the Moon. The booster passed quite close to the Moon in January in a rendezvous that altered its orbit, said Gray.

He is behind Project Pluto, software that allows scientists to calculate the trajectory of asteroids and other objects in space and is used in NASA-financed space observation programs.


A week after the rocket stage whizzed close to the Moon, Gray observed it again and concluded it would crash into the Moon’s dark side on March 4 at more than 9,000km/h (5,500 mph).

Also Read | Explained: How trillion-dollar 'space economy' is threatened by debris

The exact time and location of impact may change slightly from his forecast but there is widespread agreement that there will be a collision on the Moon that day.

“I’ve been tracking junk of this sort for about 15 years. And this is the first unintentional lunar impact that we’ve had,” Gray told AFP.

Astronomer Jonathan McDowell said, however, the effects of the collision will be minor, adding it is possible similar impacts have taken place unnoticed.

“There are at least 50 objects that were left in deep Earth orbit in the 60s, 70s and 80s that were just abandoned there. We didn’t track them,” he said.

Muslk slammed for space junk

Chinese web users had earlier slammed Tesla founder Elon Musk's space ambitions after China complained that its space station was forced to take evasive action to avoid collision with satellites launched by Musk's Starlink programme.

"A close encounter occurred between the Starlink-1095 satellite and the China Space Station on 1 July 2021. For safety reasons, the China Space Station took the initiative to conduct an evasive manoeuvre in the evening of that day to avoid a potential collision between the two spacecraft," China had said in a document released in December last.


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