The Falcon 9 rocket engine that SpaceX launched in 2015 isn’t the trash that could crash into the moon in March. Billy Gray, the data analyst who first identified a SpaceX rocket as the source, now says he made a mistake in his calculations. Now, with 80 percent confidence, he claims that in fact, during the mission of the Chinese lunar program, Chang-o 5-T1, one of the phases of the probe’s launch vehicle sent to the Moon is headed for the Moon.
It is estimated that space debris could collide with the moon on March 4, the first time we know that a man-made object has uncontrollably smashed into the orb. The gear stage of the rocket will explode on impact, but the effect will have only minor consequences.
Jonathan McDowell, a researcher at the Harward-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, confirmed Gray’s recalculated data to the BBC. According to him, the previous arithmetic error is a good example of the amount of uncertainty in determining the space junk, which also explains the error. “We can only count on a handful of volunteers who work in their spare time,” he said. “So it’s hard to verify the accounts.”
The BBC reported that space debris orbiting near the Earth is being tracked by a specialized team from the US Army, the Space Force, but no one has been officially tracked by space debris orbiting the Earth. The European Space Agency also noted that “there is a need for enhanced space tracking and a broader sharing of data between space operators, space delivery companies, members of astronomers and the space observing community.” (via BBC)