Space junk, headed for Moon is Chinese, not SpaceX rocket debris: Astronomers

Bill Gray, the astronomer who had previously claimed that a piece of one of Elon Musk’s Falcon 9 booster rockets was going to slam into the moon in March has admitted now that he has made a mistake, saying that the space junk belongs to a Chinese rocket.

Astronomer Gray, of Project Pluto, which supplies software to amateur and professional astronomers, set the astronomy world abuzz by making a very specific prediction about a moon impact on 4 March, 2022.

Gray now says he thinks the ‘long cylinder, spinning slowly’ is not part of a Space Exploration Technologies Corp. booster, but belongs to a Chinese rocket sent to the moon in October 2014. Gray has also slightly tweaked his calculations to put the impact a few kilometers away from the original impact spot.

“We now know that this object is not actually the SpaceX booster: that was a misidentification, by me”, Gray wrote in an ammended blog post.

In another fresh post entitled “Corrected identification of object about to hit the moon, the astronomer writes, “Back in March 2015, I (mis)identified this object as 2015-007B, the second stage of the DSCOVR spacecraft. We now have good evidence that it is actually 2014-065B, the booster for the Chang’e 5-T1 lunar mission. (It will, however, still hit the moon within a few kilometers of the predicted spot on 2022 March 4 at 12:25 UTC, within a few seconds of the predicted time.)”

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In an answer to if it isn’t a part of Elon’s rocket, where that ended up, Gray wrote, “I wish I had a good answer”. “But I strongly suspect that no one does. I don’t think SpaceX knows. If they did they could have raised their hand in the last couple of weeks and said ‘That’s not our rocket stage hitting the moon”, Gray added.

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According to Gray, his guess is that the booster followed the DSCVR weather satellite launched by the Falcon 9 on its million-mile journey into deep space. And it is now probably in an orbit around the sun.

  • February 16, 2022
Universe & Existence