Home » Technology » OK, whose rocket just hit the moon? – TechCrunch

OK, whose rocket just hit the moon? – TechCrunch

OK, whose rocket just hit the moon? – TechCrunch

You know you’re living in the space age when a rocket hits the moon, and the industry as a whole points to the sky and, like an angry teacher holding up a paper airplane, asks “Who launched this?!” Truly, that is what occurred this week as an unidentified rocket stage (!) impacted the lunar surface, forming a new and interesting crater and leaving us all wondering how it’s possible not to know what happened.

The short version of this story is that skywatchers led by Bill Gray had been tracking an object for months that, based on their calculations, would soon impact the moon. It was obviously a piece of rocket trash (rockets produce a ton of trash), but no one stepped up to say “yes, that’s ours, sorry about that.”

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Based on their observations and discussions, these amateur (though by no means lacking in expertise) object trackers determined that it was most likely a SpaceX launch from 2015. But SpaceX didn’t cop to it, and after a while Gray and others, including NASA, decided it was more likely to be a 2014 launch out of China. China denied this is the case, saying the launch vehicle in question burned up on reentry.

Maybe they’re telling the truth; maybe they don’t want to be responsible for the first completely inadvertent lunar impact in history. Other spacecraft have struck the Moon, but it was on purpose or part of a botched landing (in other words, the impact was intentional, just a little harder than expected) — not just a wayward piece of space junk.

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Perhaps we’ll never know, and really, that’s the weirdest part of all. With hundreds of terrestrial telescopes and radars, space-based sensor networks, and cameras pointing every which way — and that’s just the space monitoring we know about! — it seems amazing that a whole…

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