Seven years after it launched, a SpaceX rocket is about to collide with the moon

midian182

Posts: 7,782   +80
Staff member
In a nutshell: One of Elon Musk’s SpaceX rockets sent into space almost seven years ago will crash into the moon at the start of March, experts say. That might not sound like a good thing, but the impact could offer some valuable scientific information.

In February 2015, SpaceX launched its first interplanetary mission from Florida, sending a weather satellite more than 1 million miles away from the Earth. Following the Falcon 9 rocket’s long burn to reach a transfer orbit, it did not have enough fuel to return to Earth’s atmosphere and burn up. It also “lacked the energy to escape the gravity of the Earth-Moon system,” meteorologist Eric Berger wrote on Ars Technica, leaving it in a “chaotic orbit.”

Space observers now say that the Falcon 9's second stage, which is about four metric tons, will crash into the moon at a velocity of about 2.58 km/s (5,700mph) in a few weeks. Bill Gray, who writes the Project Pluto software to track near-Earth objects, said it would hit the far side of the moon, near the equator, on March 4.

“Space junk can be a little tricky,” Gray said. “I have a fairly complete mathematical model of what the earth, moon, sun, and planets are doing and how their gravity is affecting the object. I have a rough idea of how much sunlight is pushing outward on the object, gently pushing it away from the sun. This usually enables me to make predictions with a good bit of confidence.”

For amateur astronomers hoping to see the collision from Earth, Gray says the bulk of the moon will be in the way, “and even if it were on the near side, the impact occurs a couple of days after New Moon.”

It’s believed that satellites currently orbiting the moon, including NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and India's Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft, will be able to gather valuable data from the impact crater and revealed material. NASA purposely impacted the moon with a spent rocket stage in 2009 for the same purpose, but this is thought to be the first instance of a piece of space junk unintentionally hitting the moon.

Keeping with unintentional (near) impacts, last month saw China complain to the UN over claims that SpaceX Starlink satellites almost crashed into its space station twice in the past year.

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Watzupken

Posts: 571   +476
What are they hoping to achieve by crashing waste on the moon? They are expecting to find some precious metal or fuel there? They crash on a rock, they find more rocks.
 

sagbobbit

Posts: 13   +7
What are they hoping to achieve by crashing waste on the moon? They are expecting to find some precious metal or fuel there? They crash on a rock, they find more rocks.
They can find information about which rocks exactly, and we still don't know exactly how old the moon is so info about rocks could shed some more light on that
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 7,487   +6,290
What are they hoping to achieve by crashing waste on the moon? They are expecting to find some precious metal or fuel there? They crash on a rock, they find more rocks.
The Moon has seismic sensors on it left by various craft from various countries over the years including the US Lunar landings. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_seismology
These sensors, assuming they are still operating, will pick up the crash and using various seismic techniques, the signals from such a crash can be used to determine the interior structure of the Moon or other bodies, just like Earthquakes can provide the same sort of information about the interior of the Earth.

EDIT: IMO, its a perfect use of SpaceX debris. ;)
 

captaincranky

Posts: 18,538   +7,376
"Much Ado About Nothing"
Ah yes. We can enlist the dummy to steer, oh wait, didn't the dummy stay behind? :laughing:
I envision the Tesla, hundreds of years from now, entering a planetary orbit around a planet with sentient hominid beings.

They send up a ship to retrieve the car and dummy, turning it over to their greatest scientists. Who stand around it pondering at great length, "who's this a**hole". :facepalm::rolleyes:
 

Bobbydpue

Posts: 322   +217
What are they hoping to achieve by crashing waste on the moon? They are expecting to find some precious metal or fuel there? They crash on a rock, they find more rocks.
If you read the article you would have seen this: " but this is thought to be the first instance of a piece of space junk unintentionally hitting the moon." This waste isn't being purposefully crashed into the moon to discover something.