Search icon


27th Jan 2022

Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket is on course to crash into moon and explode

Kieran Galpin


When Earth has enough litter, you fire a rocket at the Moon instead

A rocket owned by Elon Musk’s space exploration company SpaceX is reportedly on course to crash into the moon and explode.

The Falcon 9 booster rocket was launched back in 2015 but did not have enough fuel to return to Earth after completing its mission, so it remained in space.

Speaking to the BBC, Astronomer Jonathan McDowell said it will be the first uncontrolled rocket crash involving the moon. He did however add that the effect would be minor, meaning no freak ocean behaviour or astrology people losing their marbles.

Falcon 9 was abandoned seven years ago after it completed its mission to push a space weather satellite on its million-mile journey.

Since 2015, the rocket has been trapped by numerous gravitational forces like the Earth, moon and sun. Professor Mcdowell from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics said its flight path had been “chaotic.”

He added: “It’s been dead – just following the laws of gravity.

“Over the decades there have been maybe 50 large objects that we’ve totally lost track of. This may have happened a bunch of times before, we just didn’t notice. This would be the first confirmed case.”

The collision is due to occur on March 4 and will explode on contact with the moon.

Falcon 9’s projected demise was identified by journalist Eric Berger on the space website Ars Technica and by data analyst Bill Gray in his blog.

“It’s basically a four-tonne empty metal tank, with a rocket engine on the back. And so if you imagine throwing that at a rock at 5,000 miles an hour, it’s not going to be happy,” Prof McDowell explained.

It’s believed that Falcon 9 will leave a small artificial crater on the surface of the moon.

However scientists will not learn anything from the crash, says McDowell – who also sent a rocket to crash into the moon back in 2009. While McDowell is not concerned with space litter, he did say it could be an issue in the future.

He said: “If we get into the future where there are cities and bases on the moon, we want to know what’s out there. It’s much easier to get that organised when there is slow traffic in space, rather than waiting until it’s a problem.”

Related links: