How to see Elon Musk’s ‘chaotic’ rocket that will crash into the Moon after being ‘out of control for 7 years’
SPACEX sent a rocket seven years ago that is about to end violently on the Moon.
The second stage of the Falcon 9 vehicle will crash into our rocky satellite in March – and you can watch it en route.
How to see the reminder
On February 7 and 8, 2022, Falcon 9’s upper stage will be visible from Earth – about a month before its collision with the Moon.
This is because it will circumnavigate the Earth on its night side before disappearing behind our barren neighbour.
It will then loop around and hit the far side of the Moon, meaning the crash itself will not be visible from Earth.
Italian astronomer Gianluca Masi of the Virtual Telescope announced that the event will be streamed live online here.
The show will begin at 6:00 p.m. UK time (1:00 p.m. EST) on February 7 and 8.
The rocket part will be brightest on this last date as it makes its closest pass to our planet.
SpaceX rocket crash explained
A four-ton piece of a SpaceX rocket is on a collision course with the Moon, according to space junk trackers online.
The runaway thruster was launched from Florida in February 2015 as part of the rocket company’s first deep-space mission.
Ars-Technica reports that the second stage of Falcon 9 has completed a long burn of its engines before deploying NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory on a journey to a point more than a million miles from Earth.
It didn’t have enough fuel left to bring it back into Earth’s atmosphere, leaving it in a chaotic orbit around our planet.
Now space trackers have calculated that part of the rocket will cross the Moon at 2.58 kilometers per second in a few weeks.
What is SpaceX?
Here’s what you need to know…
SpaceX is a cash-strapped rocket company that wants to take humans to Mars.
It was created by eccentric billionaire Elon Musk in 2002 and is based in Hawthorne, California.
SpaceX’s first goal was to build rockets that can autonomously land on Earth to be refurbished and reused.
Technology makes launching and operating spaceflight more efficient, and therefore cheaper.
SpaceX currently uses its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy reusable rockets to ferry cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA.
It also carries satellites and other space technology into orbit for various government agencies and multinational corporations.
The company flew astronauts to the ISS for the first time in 2020 and flew its first all-civilian crew there a year later.
Future missions will carry tourists and astronauts to the Moon and Mars.
Musk has repeatedly said he believes humanity must colonize Mars to save itself from extinction.
He plans to send a SpaceX rocket to the Red Planet by 2027.
The impact is estimated to occur on March 4, 2022, according to Bill Gray, who writes the popular Pluto Project Software to track near-Earth objects.
“This is the first unintentional case [of space junk hitting the Moon] of which I am aware”, Gray wrote Last week.
The astronomer recently appealed to space observers to make observations on the booster to refine his calculations.
He hopes to determine the exact time of the accident sooner than expected.
Unfortunately, it won’t be possible to see the impact live because the tumbling part of the rocket is expected to hit the far side of the Moon – the part facing Earth.
Instead, astronomers will rely on images taken by satellites, including NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, to see the aftermath of the crash.
Could the crash help scientists?
By analyzing the resulting crater, scientists hope to observe subterranean material ejected by the crash to shed light on the composition of the Moon.
As part of its LCROSS mission, in 2009 Nasa deliberately crashed a rocket booster into the Moon in hopes of learning something from the debris it left behind.
“Essentially this is a ‘free’ LCROSS…except we probably won’t see the impact of it,” Gray wrote.
SpaceX’s 2015 mission, dubbed DSCOVR, was the first to leave Earth orbit, meaning the rocket’s second stage could not be steered into the atmosphere.
This tactic is regularly used by the company and Western space agencies to reduce debris by ensuring that it burns up instead of remaining in orbit.
Separately, Boeing has invested $450 million in a flying taxi startup that hopes to ferry passengers across cities by the end of the decade.
Custom smart guns, which can only be fired by verified users, may finally be available to US consumers this year.
Scientists embark on a mission to unravel the mystery behind dozens of gruesome child mummies buried in an underground tomb in Sicily.
And police have arrested an Italian mafia henchman believed to be on the run for 20 years after spotting the fugitive on Google Maps.
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for the Sun Online Tech & Science team? Email us at [email protected]