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An Old Rocket Just Slammed Into The Moon & There's No Horoscope For This

Someone's space junk is in retrograde.

Global Editorial Fellow
The Moon. Right: A model of China's Chang'e mission rocket.

The Moon. Right: A model of China's Chang'e mission rocket.

A suspected Chinese rocket booster slammed into the moon on Friday, leaving a huge (and embarrassing) crater that'll probably be there for ever.

So... oops?

This is a not-so-great "first" for humanity because the rocket wasn't supposed to hit the moon, The Guardian reports. It was abandoned in space a while ago and it somehow got swept into lunar orbit, then BAM! It hits the surface and leaves an estimated 65-foot-wide crater.

The object is believed to have been a rocket booster from China's Chang'e 5-T1 mission, although it was previously thought to be a piece of Elon Musk's SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

However, no one has been able to say for sure who owned it.

The Falcon 9 made headlines last summer for successfully taking astronauts up to space and landing upright on Earth.

The Chang'e mission, meanwhile, was a 2014 test rocket that China used to practice launching stuff to the moon.

China has said that it can't be to blame because its rocket burned up in Earth's atmosphere, but some data suggests that it survived and kept spinning toward the moon, according to NASA.

The United States Space Force, not to be confused with Netflix's Space Force, also seems to have data that corroborates this on their website, but the USSF later told the Verge that the booster never made it back.

"While U.S. Space Command can confirm the CHANG’E 5-T1 rocket body never de-orbited, we cannot confirm the country of origin of the rocket body that may impact the moon," said a Space Force official in an email statement to the Verge.

Regardless of who owned it, the object weighed about 4 tons and hit the moon at a speed of about 5,500 mph, The Guardian reports. That's apparently hard and fast enough to leave a pretty big crater between 65-100 feet wide.

So the next time you look up and think about a meteor smashing into the Earth, just imagine what that rocket looked like when it came down on the moon.


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