A 3-Ton Rocket Will Smash Into the Moon This Week, Colliding at 5,800 MPH

Lunar Eclipse

Photo: Getty Images

The moon is about to get walloped by 3 tons of space junk, a punch that will carve out a crater that could fit several semi tractor-trailers.

The leftover rocket will smash into the far side of the moon at 5,800 mph (9,300 kph) on Friday, away from telescopes’ eyes. It may take weeks, even months, to confirm the impact through satellite images.

Experts believe this waste has been floating around since China launched it nearly a decade ago. But Chinese officials are dubious it’s theirs.

No matter whose it is, scientists expect the object to carve out a hole 33 feet to 66 feet (10 to 20 meters) across and send moon dust flying hundreds of miles (kilometers) across the barren, pockmarked surface.

The U.S. Space Command, which tracks lower space junk, confirmed Tuesday that the Chinese upper stage from the 2014 lunar mission never deorbited. But it could not confirm the country of origin for the object about to strike the moon.

Tracking deep space mission leftovers like this is hard, according to Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard and Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

“We are now in an era where many countries and private companies are putting stuff in deep space, so it’s time to start to keep track of it,” McDowell said.

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