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  Spent rocket stage to impact the moon

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Author Topic:   Spent rocket stage to impact the moon
Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 47873
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-24-2022 03:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The SpaceX Falcon 9 second stage that helped launch NOAA's Deep Space Climate Observatory in February 2015 is now on course to intersect the moon, Ars Technica reports.
According to Bill Gray, who writes the widely used Project Pluto software to track near-Earth objects, asteroids, minor planets, and comets, such an impact could come in March.

Earlier this month, Gray put out a call for amateur and professional astronomers to make additional observations of the stage, which appears to be tumbling through space. With this new data, Gray now believes that the Falcon 9's upper stage will very likely impact the far side of the Moon, near the equator, on March 4. More information can be found here.

Some uncertainties remain. As the object is tumbling, it is difficult to precisely predict the effects of sunlight "pushing" on the rocket stage and thus making slight alterations to its orbit. "These unpredictable effects are very small," Gray writes. But they will accumulate between now and March 4, and further observations are needed to refine the precise time and location of the impact.

oly
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Posts: 1343
From: Perth, Western Australia
Registered: Apr 2015

posted 01-24-2022 05:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for oly   Click Here to Email oly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If this rocket body hits an existing "historically significant human or robotic landing sites, artifacts, spacecraft, and other evidence of activity," does this mean that the U.S. would be the first nation to break the Artemis Accords?

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 47873
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-24-2022 07:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No, because the launch preceded the Artemis Accords by five years.

But let's hope the predictions remain true and the impact point is on the far side and near the equator.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 47873
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-12-2022 10:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A Falcon 9 rocket stage is not going to strike the moon next month. Instead, it's probably a Chinese rocket, Ars Technica reports.
Bill Gray, who writes the widely used Project Pluto software to track near-Earth objects and was the original source for the Falcon 9 hitting the Moon story, acknowledged the error on his website Saturday. He explained that, back in 2015, he and other observers found an unidentified object in the sky and gave it a temporary name, WE0913A. Further observations suggested it probably was a human-made object, and soon the second stage of the rocket used to launch DSCOVR became a prime candidate.

"I thought it was either DSCOVR or some bit of hardware associated with it," Gray wrote Saturday. "Further data confirmed that yes, WE0913A had gone past the moon two days after DSCOVR's launch, and I and others came to accept the identification with the second stage as correct. The object had about the brightness we would expect, and had showed up at the expected time and moving in a reasonable orbit." ...

It was an engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Jon Giorgini, who realized this object was not in fact the upper stage of a Falcon 9 rocket. He wrote to Gray on Saturday morning explaining that the DSCOVR spacecraft's trajectory did not go particularly close to the Moon, and that it would therefore be a little strange if the second stage strayed close enough to strike it. This prompted Gray to dig back into his data, and identify other potential candidates.

He soon found one — the Chinese Chang'e 5-T1 mission launched in October 2014 on a Long March 3C rocket. This lunar mission sent a small spacecraft to the Moon as a precursor test for an eventual lunar sample return mission. The launch time and lunar trajectory are almost an exact match for the orbit of the object that will hit the Moon in March.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 47873
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-21-2022 01:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rocket debris set to impact the moon in March does not originate from the 2014 Chang'e-5 T1 mission, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims.
"According to China's monitoring, the upper stage of the rocket related to the Chang'e-5 mission entered into Earth's atmosphere and completely burned up," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Feb. 21.

Space tracking data from the Space Force's 18th Space Control Squadron suggests that 2014-065B — the international designator for the rocket stage in question — reentered the atmosphere in October 2015, a year after launch, apparently backing China's claim.

All times are CT (US)

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