According to meteorologists and senior space editor Eric Berger who works for Ars Technica, after seven years, a SpaceX rocket is on a collision course to hit the Moon.
The spent Falcon 9 rocket stage was originally launched from Florida in February 2015 as part of an interplanetary mission to send a space weather satellite a million miles away from earth.
It was sending the NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory on its way to the Lagrange point and after it was finished, the rocket did not have enough fuel to return to Earth’s atmosphere.
Berger wrote on Ars Technica, it also “lacked the energy to escape the gravity of the Earth-Moon system. So it has been following a somewhat chaotic orbit since February 2015.”
He says that the rocket is about four metric tonnes of “space junk” and is on course to intersect with the moon at a velocity of about 1.6 miles per second in just a few weeks.
Space observer Bill Gray who writes software to track near-Earth objects, asteroids, minor planets, and comets, also said that he believes the rocket will most likely hit the far side of the moon, near the equator, on March 4th, 2022.
“This is the first unintentional case [of space junk hitting the moon] of which I am aware,” Gray said.
The exact spot on the moon where the rocket will hit still remains unclear due to the unpredictable effects like sunlight “pushing” on the rocket and “ambiguity in measuring rotation periods” which may slightly alter the rocket’s orbit.
“These unpredictable effects are very small. But they will accumulate between now and March 4,” Gray said.
He also added that the collision will most likely go unobserved.
This is because, “the bulk of the moon is in the way, and even if it were on the near side, the impact occurs a couple of days after New Moon,” he wrote.