A SpaceX rocket has been tumbling about in space for the past seven years. It will come to an eventual, abrupt stop on the moon. By that, we mean crash. It’s going to crash into the moon.
Originally launched in 2015, the Falcon 9 rocket was used in a mission to deliver a space weather satellite to a point in space over 1 million kilometres away. But after it had done most of its job the rocket found itself in a bit of a pickle.
It didn’t have enough fuel to return to Earth nor enough to escape the gravitational pull from our planet or the moon. That’s according to Eric Berger, a certified meteorologist writing for Ars Technica. So it drifted around in a chaotic, uncontrolled orbit for the last seven years.
Big moon impact incoming
Now, the people who watch the skies say it’s heading for impact on the moon. One such person, Bill Grey, author of the Project Pluto software that tracks near-Earth objects says the rocket could impact the moon in early March.
Although it might sound like a very expensive miscalculation, this could prove rather useful to NASA. The impact would allow its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and India’s Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft, both currently orbiting the moon, to study the crater and the effects of the impact.
So, if the rocket, with a mass of 4 metric tonnes and travelling at about 2.58km/s, does hit the moon on 4 March then it will do so with 13312.8MJs (Megajoules) of energy.
While that may sound like a lot – it’s the equivalent energy of eating 31,819 bananas – don’t look up, because you probably won’t be able to see anything. Let’s hope the 52 launches SpaceX has planned for 2022 go better than this one.