As if we didn’t have enough to worry about from Tesla’s eccentric CEO, Elon Musk. The tech giant has long had one eye on Earth and the other on space. He and his other company, SpaceX, have sent several ships into space. Yep. Elon Musk’s Falcon 9 is on a collision course with our one and only Moon.
Is Elon Musk’s Falcon 9 rocket really going to crash into the Moon?
The BBC says that the Falcon 9 rocket is currently on a collision course with the Moon. The Falcon 9 rocket launched in 2015. However, the rocket didn’t have enough fuel to return home, so SpaceX left it floating around up there.
Astronomer Jonathan McDowell told BBC News it would be the first known uncontrolled rocket collision with the Moon. If anyone is surprised by Musk standing at the helm of this astronomical first, they haven’t been paying attention. Of course, one of Elon Musk’s rockets is going to crash into the Moon. There was no way this wasn’t going to happen.
What happens if something crashes into the Moon?
Thankfully, McDowell says the effects will be minimal. Even still, how does something like this happen?
After the Falcon 9 rocket completed its mission to send a space-weather satellite on a million-mile journey, it was abandoned to float in orbit for seven years. Since it was abandoned, it has been dragged all over tarnation due to opposing gravitational forces like the Moon, the Earth, and the Sun.
McDowell describes the rocket as, “It’s been dead – just following the laws of gravity.” Due to this, the rocket’s orbit has been fairly “chaotic” over the past seven years.
What is space junk?
The Falcon 9 rocket is one of many pieces of space junk that humans have essentially littered into our universe. “Over the decades, there have been maybe 50 large objects that we’ve totally lost track of. This may have happened many times before; we just didn’t notice. This would be the first confirmed case,” Prof McDowell says.
In his blog, Eric Berger, a journalist, identified Falcon 9’s projected demise on the space website Ars Technica and data analyst Bill Gray.
When will the Falcon 9 hit the Moon?
The BBC says the estimated date is most likely March 4th, 2022. The rocket is expected to explode on impact.
“It’s basically a four-tonne empty metal tank, with a rocket engine on the back. And so if you imagine throwing that at a rock at 5,000 miles an hour, it’s not going to be happy,” Prof McDowell says.
Thankfully, based on models and projections, this impact will do little more than create a small, artificial crater on the surface of the Moon. “If we get into the future where there are cities and bases on the Moon, we want to know what’s out there. It’s much easier to get that organized when there is slow traffic in space, rather than waiting until it’s a problem.”