A stage from a rocket launched years ago crashed into the Moon this March 4. It was probably the first time it has ever happened. A piece of spacecraft hit the Moon unintentionally. Yes, the piece of a rocket impacted the Moon.
Out of sight
The impact took place at 12.25 UTC on the occulted face near the equator. It is beyond the range of ground-based telescopes. And probably also far from the immediate view of NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission.
LRO will search for the crater after the event. A mission spokesman told Space.com last month. Scientific American had suggested that the impact would occur near the 570-kilometer-diameter Hertzsprung crater.
The impact was predicted in late January by Bill Gray. He is the writer of the Project Pluto software. This is widely used to track near-Earth objects, asteroids, minor planets and comets.
Finding the person responsible
Identified the culprit as the second stage of a Falcon 9 rocket from Space X. When was it launched? In 2015. That rocket sent a NOAA satellite into an orbit 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. Equivalent to nearly five times farther than the Moon. It lacked the fuel to return to Earth and to escape the gravity of the Earth-Moon system. The rocket stage followed a chaotic orbit for years that has led to this outcome.
In mid-February, Gray himself changed his identification. He stated that the object on its way to the Moon belonged to the Chinese experimental lunar mission Chang’e 5-T1. It was launched in October 2014, being its booster. The mission used a Long March 3C/G2 rocket. This was subsequently denied by the Chinese government. What is undeniable is that the piece of a rocket impacted the Moon.