An astronomer who claimed a piece of one of Elon Musk's Falcon 9 launch vehicles would crash on the moon in March has admitted a mistake: Now he says the piece of space debris belongs to a Chinese rocket.
Bill Gray caused a stir in the astronomy world when he made a highly accurate prediction of the moon's impact on March 4, 2022.
While Gray slightly adjusted his calculations to place the impact within a few kilometers of the original impact site, he now believes that the "long, slowly rotating cylinder" was not part of a Space Exploration Technologies Corp. booster, but sent to a October 2014 Chinese rocket to the moon.
In a modified blog post over the weekend, Gray of the Pluto Project, which provides software for amateur and professional astronomers, wrote: "We now know that this object is not actually the SpaceX booster: it was a misidentification on my part." ".
And in a new post titled "Corrected Identification of a Moon Near-Impact Object," he wrote: "In March 2015, I (mistakenly) identified this object as 2015-007B, the second stage of the DSCOVR spacecraft. We now have good evidence that this is indeed 2014-065B, the booster for the Chang'e 5-T1 lunar mission.(However, it will still impact the Moon at 12:25 UTC on March 4, 2022, a few kilometers of the predicted point, within a few seconds of the predicted time).
So if it's not part of Elon's rocket, where did that end up?
"I wish I had a good answer," Gray wrote. “But I strongly suspect that no one does. I don't think SpaceX knows. If they had done that, they could have thrown their hands up over the last few weeks and said, 'That's not our scenario of a rocket hitting the moon.'"
Gray said his best guess is that the booster was following the DSCVR weather satellite launched by Falcon 9 on its million-mile journey into space and is now probably in orbit around the sun.