Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

A mysterious rocket just slammed into the moon and no one knows who launched it

Published Jun 30th, 2022 4:52PM EDT
The Hubble Space Telescope in front of the Moon.
Image: M. Kornmesser (ESA/Hubble), NASA, and ESA

If you buy through a BGR link, we may earn an affiliate commission, helping support our expert product labs.

Space junk is a massive problem for NASA and other space agencies. Back in March, we reported on three tons of space junk hurtling towards the Moon. The junk was set to hit the side of the Moon facing away from our planet. Since those initial reports, more believe the junk was in fact a rocket that hit the Moon. The most intriguing part, though, is nobody wants to take the blame.

Nobody knows who to blame for the rocket that hit the Moon

where the rocket hit the MoonImage source: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University

NASA has a lot of plans for the Moon. From the Lunar Gateway to putting human boots back on the lunar surface, there are a lot of missions centered around it. Now, the Moon isn’t a stranger to being hit by space junk. What’s concerning is that nobody wants to take credit for the rocket that hit the Moon. This only raises more concerns about the current state of space junk flying around out there.

There were once beliefs that the rocket could have belonged to a SpaceX launch vehicle from back in 2015. The Elon Musk-led agency didn’t step up and take credit for it, though. And, after a while, Gray and other object trackers, including NASA itself, determined that it was most likely space junk from the launch of a 2014 rocket out of China.

Ultimately, though, China said it wasn’t to blame for the rocket that hit the Moon. It claimed that the launch vehicle in question had burned up in reentry. Whether that was the truth or not, though, remains to be seen. And, with nobody taking credit, we’re all just kind of left scratching our heads over what happened.

How does something like this happen?

space junk
A piece of a Russian rocket burns up over Australia. Image source: Victorian Storm Chasers

As I noted before, the Moon isn’t a stranger to space junk colliding into it. After all, that’s what most astronomers believe formed the craters on the lunar surface. But, this is the first time that space junk from Earth has hit the Moon. And, because it was a rocket that hit the Moon, it’s even more concerning.

Rockets create a lot of trash. Not only do they feature multiple stages, but they also have multiple moving parts that can become dislodged somehow. And, for the time being, tracking space trash is exceptionally difficult. Everyone has admitted that it’s a problem, yet we still have to worry about the ISS avoiding trash that countries created by destroying satellites and other things.

It’s because of this lack of effort to track space objects that a piece of a rocket was able to hit the Moon. In its wake, the trash left a unique two-crater indent. While not a massive crater by any means, it was big enough to leave a mark on our lunar body.

Luckily, the rocket that hit the Moon created a double crater. NASA says this could help determine who it belonged to, as rockets typically only create one crater.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.

More Science