The rocket that will fall on the Moon is in China, otherwise it is “an incredible opportunity”

Something man -made is about to hit the Moon, March 4, 2022. It looks like a piece of old rocket, but its origin is disputed. But who owns this space debris?

Something will fall on the Moon this Friday, March 4, 2022 and everyone suggests it is remnants of the galaxy. But not everyone agrees on its origin. First identified as the remains of a SpaceX rocket, this piece of rocket heading to the Moon was later assigned to a former Chinese space mission, the Chang’e 5-T1. But China has denied its involvement. Who should you believe?

To see more clearly, we need to go back to the beginning of the story. It all started in mid -January, according to the estimates of an astronomer Bill Gray. He oversees the “Pluto Project”, which is used to calculate the trajectory of objects in space and also provides software, to novice or professional astronomers. He then published on his site indications on the impact of an artificial object, planned for the beginning of March on the Moon.

A piece of SpaceX rocket? wait for a while

At the time, the expert thought it was a piece of the old SpaceX rocket: a piece of Falcon 9, which left Earth in February 2015, to send into space the DSCOVR (Deep Space Climate Observatory, or the Observatory of the climate). from deep space). However, Bill Gray had to change his estimates, after a member of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory contacted him, telling him there was an error – the rocket being launched. the DSCOVR does not pass particularly close to the Moon.

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Bill Gray was then looking for other missions that would have been launched at the same time and was considering Chang’e 5-T1. The mission was launched in October 2014, to prepare for the future lunar sample return mission, Chang’e 5. However, China claims that the part of the rocket that will fall on the Moon is not his. Wang Wenbin, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, said that ” the upper stage of the Chang’e 5 mission crashed into the earth’s atmosphere safely and completely burned “.

A maze between the two Chinese missions

The problem is that this statement is not very clear. There seems to be some confusion, as Bill Gray explains in Numerama: I think someone said ‘Chang’e 5-T1’ (which is the thing we’re tracking) and someone else heard ‘Chang’e 5’ (which is a completely weird thing.). Chang’e 5 was launched in November 2020 (6 years after Chang’e 5-T1). The upper phase of Chang’e 5 actually returns to Earth over the Pacific, with China likely tracking its return. But he’s less precisely tracking the return of the Chang’e 5-T1 rocket.

The rocket that will fall on the Moon is in China, otherwise it is
Two different missions. // Source: Nino Barbey for Numerama

The object we were tracking was to fly to China within 20 minutes of Chang’e 5-T1’s launch time and towards the Moon, exactly in the kind of orbit that Chinese lunar missions are likely to have. That would take a pretty incredible chance (there aren’t many things in those high orbits) », Tells us in any case Bill Gray. This hypothesis is supported by another element: the astronomer obtains information from an amateur radio satellite attached to the launcher … and its trajectory corresponds to the object being monitored.

“The object was reported to fly over China within 20 minutes of the launch of Chang’e 5-T1”

Bill Gray, astronomer

Moreover, Bill Gray is not alone in establishing the link between the object and the mission of Chang’e 5-T1. At the University of Arizona, scientists also examined the remains and studied its composition for two nights. In particular, they were able to compare it to SpaceX rockets and Chinese rockets. According to them, it must be a Chinese rocket. Recently, the United States Space Command announced that the upper phase of the Chang’e 5-T1 rocket would not return to the atmosphere (it was never desorbed). However, despite this confirmation, the U.S. Space Command has determined that it cannot say with certainty what the country of origin of the object directed at the Moon is.

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The 4M mission.  // Source: LuxSpace (cropped image)

In summary, there is therefore no definitive proof that this object is actually the launcher of the Chang’e 5-T1, but all indications seem strongly pleading in favor of this hypothesis. More than 7 years after its launch, everyone is suggesting that this rocket piece will fall to the Moon on March 4th.

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