Rocket set to hit Moon was built by China, not SpaceX, say astronomers

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article

Astronomy experts say they originally misread the secrets of the night sky last month: it turns out that a rocket expected to crash into the Moon in early March was built by China, not SpaceX.

A rocket will indeed strike the lunar surface on March 4, but contrary to what had been announced, it was built not by Elon Musk's company, but by Beijing, experts now say.

The rocket is now said to be 2014-065B, the booster for the Chang'e 5-T1, launched in 2014 as part of the Chinese space agency's lunar exploration program.

The surprise announcement was made by astronomer Bill Gray, who first identified the future impact, and admitted his mistake last weekend.

"This (honest mistake) just emphasises the problem with lack of proper tracking of these deep space objects," tweeted astronomer Jonathan McDowell, who advocates for greater regulation of space waste.

"The object had about the brightness we would expect, and had showed up at the expected time and moving in a reasonable orbit," he wrote in post.

But "in hindsight, I should have noticed some odd things" about its orbit, he added.

NASA said in late January that it would attempt to observe the crater that will be formed by the explosion of this object, thanks to its probe that orbits around the Moon, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).

The agency called the event an "exciting research opportunity."

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Rand - Dollar
17.84
+1.0%
Rand - Pound
19.41
-0.4%
Rand - Euro
17.36
-0.5%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.63
-0.4%
Rand - Yen
0.12
+0.5%
Gold
1,659.80
+1.9%
Silver
18.90
+2.8%
Palladium
2,150.50
+3.6%
Platinum
866.50
+1.5%
Brent Crude
86.27
+2.6%
Top 40
57,413
-0.4%
All Share
63,808
-0.3%
Resource 10
57,878
+1.5%
Industrial 25
78,523
-1.0%
Financial 15
14,099
-0.8%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Company Snapshot
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE
Government tenders

Find public sector tender opportunities in South Africa here.

Government tenders
This portal provides access to information on all tenders made by all public sector organisations in all spheres of government.
Browse tenders