CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - An out-of-control SpaceX rocket booster that launched from Florida is predicted to smash into the moon in the coming weeks, according to space experts.
The Falcon 9 rocket second stage was launched in February 2015 from Cape Canaveral. It was part of the launch of the Deep Space Climate Observatory but has been floating through space for the last 7 years.
Now the rogue piece of space junk seems to be on a collision course to the moon, according to independent researcher Bill Gray.
On his blog, Gray writes that the booster is expected to impact the moon on March 4.
"If this were a rock, I'd be 100% certain," Gray said about how confident he is that the collision will happen. "But space junk can be a little tricky. I have a fairly complete mathematical model of what the earth, moon, sun, and planets are doing and how their gravity is affecting the object."
Gray says this "is the first unintentional case of which I am aware."
So should we be worried?
"Short version: from any 'safety' viewpoint, not at all," said Gray, but he does see this as an opportunity to advocate for everybody, including SpaceX, "to take better care of their junk."
NASA has shared a statement about how they are tracking the rogue rocket hardware.
NASA TARGETING SPRINGTIME LAUNCH FOR ARTEMIS-1 MOON ROCKET
"On its current trajectory, the second stage is expected to impact the far side of the Moon on March 4, 2022," Karen Fox, NASA's senior science communications officer told USA Today.
Fox continued by saying NASA will be "assessing if observations can be made to any changes to the lunar environment associated with the impact and later identify the crater formed by the impact. This unique event presents an exciting research opportunity," USA Today reports.
SpaceX's Starship spaceship has been chosen by NASA to land the next Americans on the moon as part of the Artemis program. According to NASA, those astronauts will make history as the first woman and the first person of color on the moon.