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Moon

A rocket launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX is currently out of control and on a collision course with the moon.

The Falcon 9 booster rocket was launched from Florida in 2015 and, according to experts, has been in an out of control orbit and may collide with the moon in a matter of weeks.

It was launched as part of a mission to send a space weather satellite, but after achieving its initial stage, it has lost control.

The first part that it successfully completed was to send NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory towards a Lagrange point.

A Lagrange point is an area in space where the Sun’s strong gravitational pull is balanced by the Earth’s, meaning objects stay in place.

The Falcon 9 booster used a lot of its engine power and was so high that the second part didn’t have the fuel reserves to return back to Earth.

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Eric Berger, a meteorologist, explained in a blog post on Ars Technica that the rocket “lacked the energy to escape the gravity of the Earth-Moon system”.

He added: “So it has been following a somewhat chaotic orbit since February 2015.”

The rocket equates to around four metric tonnes of “space junk” and is predicted to strike the moon at around 2.58km/s.

According to experts, it’s the first instance of space junk colliding with the moon ever recorded.

Bill Gray, who creates software to track space objects, believes the remainder of the Falcon 9 rocket will collide with the moon on 4 March near its equator on the far side.

In a blog post Gray explained that it had almost collided with the moon on 5 January but is now believes there will be “a certain impact at March 4”.

According to Harvard University astrophysicist, Jonathan McDowell, the event isn’t anything to be concerned about.

In a tweet, he said: “For those asking: yes, an old Falcon 9 second stage left in high orbit in 2015 is going to hit the moon on March 4.

“It's interesting, but not a big deal.”

That’s good to know.

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