China suggests it doesn’t have rocket debris about to crash into the Moon

Deepak Gupta February 23, 2022
Updated 2022/02/23 at 1:20 AM

Don’t expect China to readily accept blame for the rocket wreckage expected to crash into the moon on March 4. SpaceNews and On the edge Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin denied that the wreckage came from the 2014 Chang’e-5 T1 Moon mission. The upper stage of that rocket burned up “completely” in Earth’s atmosphere, Wang said. He maintained that China’s aerospace efforts were always in accordance with international law and that the country was determined to protect the “long-term sustainability” of outer space.

However, it is not clear that China has the right rocket in mind. Astronomer Bill Gray, who attributed the expected collision to the Chang’e-5 T1 mission (after initially blaming SpaceX), believe Wang may have confused this with the 2020 Chang’e 5 mission. A US Space Force squadron claimed that the upper stage of T1 was burned in October 2015, but Gray noted that the squadron only offered a trajectory update for that one. rocket. Burning may have been presumed, not confirmed. NASA’s JPL also believes the T1 booster is involved.

Whoever is responsible, the predicted accident will represent an unwelcome milestone in spaceflight – an accident on the Moon of a spacecraft that shouldn’t be there. The dispute over the origins of the debris also reflects the difficulty of tracking space debris. While more advanced sensors exist for detecting debris in Earth orbit, deep space monitoring has simply not been a priority. The impending collision could shift that focus, particularly with lunar missions like NASA’s Artemis program on the horizon.

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