Rocket that crashes on the moon not from SpaceX but ‘probably’ from China

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The rocket that is likely to crash on the moon on March 4 is not, as previously reported, a Falcon 9 rocket stage from SpaceX, but is “probably” a rocket stage from the Long March 3C rocket that launches China’s Chang’e 5 T1 mission to the moon in 2014.

Ars Technica writes this after further investigation by Project Pluto developer Bill Gray, who first noticed the unidentified object heading for the moon three weeks ago. Gray then argued, based on data from amateur and professional astronomers, that the object on a collision course with the moon was a rocket stage from SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket that launched DSCOVR to the moon in 2015.

Gray corrected himself this weekend to Ars Technica after receiving a message from NASA engineer Jon Giorgini. Giorgini wrote to Gray that the Falcon 9 rocket stage did not come close to the moon and so it must be another object. Gray now argues that the most likely candidate is a rocket stage from the Long March 3C rocket that launched China’s Chang’e 5-T1 lunar mission in 2014. The Long March 3C rocket launched a small spacecraft into lunar orbit as a test run for a mission to collect soil samples from the moon.

According to Gray, the launch time and orbit around the moon suits this rocket, so he states that the object that will hit the moon “probably” is a rocket stage of this rocket. Gray says: “It’s still circumstantial evidence, but I see it as very compelling evidence. Therefore, I believe the object that will hit the moon on March 4, 2022 at 12:25 PM Coordinated World Time is a rocket stage from the Chang’e 5-TI missile.”

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