In three days, a rocket will hit the moon – since its discovery by astronomer Bill Gray in January, the news has not only caused an uproar among space researchers and NASA experts. Initially, there was the assumption that this should be a rocket from Elon Musk’s company SpaceX. After several analyses, NASA corrected this, according to their findings, the affected rocket should come from China – but the Middle Kingdom denies having anything to do with it.
The mutual accusations about the three-ton missile have intensified in the last week. China vehemently denied that the missile could have come from the Middle Kingdom. However, Gray still believes the rocket is an old rocket piece from a 2014 lunar mission, believed to be from the Chang’e 5-T1 mission, which was used to get samples from the moon.
“According to Chinese surveillance, the upper stage of the Chang’e-5 mission rocket fell safely through Earth’s atmosphere and was completely burned up,” said Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry.
However, experts noted that China was referring to the Chang’e-5 mission, not the Chang’e 5-T1 mission of the same name. Gray now believes the two missions were “mixed up.” The astronomer also sees the confusion surrounding the rocket as a perfect example of too much space debris floating around in space. “This junk will no longer bother just a small group of astronomers,” Gray said.
Both NASA and other experts in the field of astronomy see the rocket’s impact on the moon as a scientific opportunity. The resulting 20 meter wide crater is expected to release subterranean materials.
According to NASA calculations, the rocket will hit the back of the moon, making live observation impossible. Scientists therefore have to rely on satellite images.