An old SpaceX rocket stage is about to reach its destination after almost a six-year journey. However, it will be completed by crashing into the Moon in a fascinating manner.
The second stage from one of the company’s Falcon 9 spacecraft was used to send the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Deep Space Climate Observatory into space in February 2015, Ars Technica reports. Instead of falling back to Earth, though, the rocket was stuck in a gravity limbo between us and the Moon.
Bill Gray, creator of near-Earth object tracker Project Pluto, along with a team of amateur and professional astronomers, recently found out that the rocket would be crashing on the far side of the Moon on March 4.
It is interesting to note that the crash will provide scientists with a rare opportunity to observe how craters are formed on the Moon.
Gray tells Ars that if researchers can find out the precise location of the impact, they’ll “be able to see a very fresh impact crater and probably learn something about the geology of that part of the Moon.”
The rocket weighs around four metric tons and will be hitting the Moon at a rate of 1.6 miles per second. So, it should create a significant-sized crater for observations.
However, this will not be considered successful as rockets are generally designed to return to Earth to burn up on re-entry — not wander off to the Moon.
Of course, SpaceX has come a long way since then and their boosters can actually land now. Hopefully, no more errant rockets wind up crashing on the Moon, especially if we have plans to colonize it.