Here’s why a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket stage is crashing into the moon after 7 years

Here’s why a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket stage is crashing into the moon after 7 years
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launching Starlink satellites.SpaceX
  • SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket that launched in 2015 will crash into the moon in five weeks.
  • It will be the upper stage of the rocket that couldn’t return to Earth after it sent NASA’s DSCOVR into space.
  • This will be the first time a SpaceX rocket stage will hit the moon.
A 2015 SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will crash into the moon on March 4. This Falcon 9 rocket launched back in February 2015 to launch the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR). The rocket couldn’t make its way back to Earth since it didn’t have enough fuel. Observers have now confirmed that it is on course to land on the moon five weeks from now.

The upper stages of SpaceX rockets usually return back to Earth after they’re sent into space and are even reused. But with this particular Falcon 9 rocket, the company wasn’t ready for a first-stage touchdown and it had only performed its first successful touchdown in December 2015. The upper stage of this Falcon 9 rocket was also very high and it didn’t have enough fuel to return to Earth.

Now a team of observers led by Bill Gray have calculated that the Falcon 9 rocket will crash into the moon on March 4. Gray runs Project Pluto which is a company that supplies software to professional and amateur astronomers. The observers also confirmed that the crash will take place on the moon’s far side which means that it won’t be visible from Earth.

Not the first time

This isn’t the first time that a rocket’s upper stage hits the moon. The upper stages of NASA’s Saturn V rockets have also crashed into the moon during the Apollo programme as well as the Atlas V rocket back in 2009. This would however be the first time a SpaceX rocket’s upper stage is doing a lunar crash.

How it can help with lunar investigations

With the Atlas V rocket, the impact took place in the moon’s south pole which caused huge amounts of water ice to burst out from the crater. This helped suggest that the moon’s polar regions are rich in water ice, reported. The Falcon 9 rocket’s landing site isn’t as interesting as this one but it’s expected to help NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and India's Chandrayaan 2 to examine the crash.


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