Tuesday, 17 May, 2022
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SpaceX rocket on collision course with moon

WASHINGTON: A chunk of a SpaceX rocket that blasted off seven years ago and was abandoned in space after completing its mission will crash into the Moon in March, experts say, reports AFP.   

The rocket was deployed in 2015 to put into orbit a NASA satellite called the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR).

Since then, the second stage of the rocket, or booster, has been floating in what mathematicians call a chaotic orbit, astronomer Bill Gray told AFP Wednesday.

It was Gray who calculated the space junk's new collision course with the Moon.

The booster passed quite close to the Moon in January in a rendezvous that altered its orbit, said Gray.

He is behind Project Pluto, software that allows for calculating the trajectory of asteroids and other objects in space and is used in NASA-financed space observation programs.

A week after the rocket stage whizzed close to the Moon, Gray observed it again and concluded it would crash into the Moon's dark side on March 4 at more than 5,500 miles per hour (9,000 kilometers per hour).

Gray appealed to the amateur astronomer community to join him in observing the booster, and his conclusion was confirmed.

The exact time and spot of impact may change slightly from his forecast but there is widespread agreement that there will be a collision on the Moon that day.