A SpaceX rocket launched in 2015 is expected to crash into the moon in the coming days. The fast-moving piece of space junk is the upper stage of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which hoisted the Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite off our planet. It has been looping around Earth and the moon ever since.
Gianluca Masi has captured both video and a still photo of the nearly seven-year-old Falcon 9 rocket spinning fast in the sky. It was admitted by Masi that due to light interference from the Moon, “grabbing [the video] was quite hard”. He was doing so with his 17-inch PlaneWave telescope, nicknamed “Elena”. In spite of the low resolution, the images were found stunning.
“See how it blinks while tumbling!” Masi adorably exclaimed in a tweet featuring the video of the Falcon 9 in the night sky.
Orbital dynamics researcher, Bill Gray discovered in January 2022 with his team that this Falcon 9 rocket booster seems to be headed directly for the far side of the Moon by early March. This outcome is likely a result of the rocket booster’s age as it was launched in 2015 as a means to obtain the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Deep Space Climate Observatory into Orbit.
Gray had also predicted in an interview with Ars that the rocket weighed about four metric tons and would hit the Moon at about 1.6 miles per second. It would leave a “very fresh impact crater” if researchers could manage to find it. He added that this would provide interesting opportunities for study.
We on Earth are also getting the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to watch a Moon impact in real-time, or at least, it can be hoped that it would be once-in-a-lifetime.