The Chinese Foreign Ministry is keen to disassociate itself from recent claims by the press that a rocket about to crash into the Moon is, in fact, Chinese space junk left over from the Chinese Chang’e 5-T1 mission launched in October 2014.
Before, the world media reported that a Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket would soon be Moon junk, but the attention has now shifted to the Chinese.
It seems that no company or country will come clean and take ownership of a man-made object headed towards the Moon.
Speculating on what the object is, previously the media have been acting on information given to them from Bill Gray, a programmer for Guide astrometry software that tracks near-Earth objects.
It’s not a SpaceX rocket…
Then Jon Giorgini, an engineer who works at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, advised Gray that it was highly unlikely that the trajectory of the SpaceX rocket would take it anywhere near the moon.
Following Giorgini’s findings, Gray went over his previous data and identified other potential candidates.
Eric Berger writing for arstechnica.com, reported that Gray considered another possible candidate for the space junk hurtling towards the Moon could be ‘The Chinese Chang’e 5-T1 mission launched in October 2014‘
On the 13th of February, it was reported that Gray advised that the ‘launch time and lunar trajectory of the Chinese Chang’e 5-T1 was almost an exact match for the orbit of the object that will hit the Moon in March.‘
…and not a Chinese one
On Monday 21st of February, China’s foreign ministry denied responsibility for the object about to slam into the Moon.
Eric Berger wrote ‘China’s foreign ministry rejected the claim Monday, saying the booster in question had “safely entered the Earth’s atmosphere and was completely incinerated.”
Spokesman Wang Wenbin stated that China “conscientiously upholds the long-term sustainability of activities in outer space,”
Its origins remain a mystery
The bets are now on as to who this seemingly man-made object really belongs to. Until we find out, let’s keep an open mind. Could it be a rocket launched initially from Earth or something else?
Gray will most likely be back to the tracking software and check out other potential candidates. There is a lot of space junk up there to track, and thousands more satellites are set to be launched in the near coming years, which will only add more space junk in orbit.
Britannica.com states, ‘ As of 2021, the United States Space Surveillance Network was tracking more than 15,000 pieces of space debris larger than 10 cm (4 inches) across. It is estimated that there are about 200,000 pieces between 1 and 10 cm (0.4 and 4 inches) across and that there could be millions of pieces smaller than 1 cm.’
Feature image credit: NASA.gov