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A chunk of SpaceX rocket that has drifted through space for years is on a collision course with the moon

Marianne Guenot   

A chunk of SpaceX rocket that has drifted through space for years is on a collision course with the moon
  • A piece of a SpaceX rocket is due to crash into the moon soon, astronomers predicted.
  • The space junk — a booster — is likely the first example of space junk hitting the moon, one said.

A chunk of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is likely to crash into the moon in March, according to astronomers tracking space junk.

The booster has been drifting in space for seven years, but it is now headed for an impact.

Bill Gray, the owner of projectpluto.com first reported the upcoming crash in a blog post.

It is likely the "first unintentional case" of a human object hitting the moon, Gray wrote.

But there's no cause for panic, Jonathan McDowell, a Harvard astronomer, said in a tweet Tuesday.

"Just another hole in the green cheese," he said in another tweet Tuesday.

The moon, unlike Earth, doesn't have a thick atmosphere to burn up incoming objects. As such, things headed for the moon tend to make impact, helping to create the vast number of craters on its surface.

"Rooting" for an impact

The booster, the part of the rocket that provides a burst of energy to get it off the ground, launched in February 2015 and weighs about 3.6 tons (4 metric tonnes), Ars Technica's Space Editor reported Monday.

Boosters are a very expensive bit of the rocket, and since late 2015, SpaceX has successfully returned these modules to earth with a view to reusing them.

But this particular booster lost too much fuel after launch and was unable to get back, per Ars Technica.

It has been drifting in between the Earth and the moon's gravities since then, making its orbit somewhat chaotic, Ars Technica reported.

It is predicted to hit the moon on March 4, per Gray of projectpluto.com

This may be the first time a piece of space junk will crash on the moon, but it won't be the first rocket to smash land there.

NASA purposefully launched a rocket at the Southern pole of the moon in 2009. The debris from the impact helped them confirm that there is water on the moon.

Gray is excited at the possibility the impact could uncover more of the moon's mysteries.

"I am rooting for a lunar impact," he wrote in his blog post.

However, although there is still a little bit of uncertainty about where the booster will land, the impact will probably be on the far side of the moon, so it likely won't be visible from Earth, Gray said.

SpaceX did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

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