The lunar far side as imaged by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter using its LROC Wide Angle Camera.
Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University

That errant upper stage set to impact the Moon’s far side needs a name!

First thought to be a SpaceX upper stage, then tagged as a left over from China’s Chang’e 5-T1 lunar mission, China appears to have indicated it’s not their hardware.

Off the hook? Artist’s impression of DSCOVR on the way to L1 atop its Falcon 9 upper stage in 2015.
Credit: SpaceX

From Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on February 21, 2022

Associated Press question:

On March 4th, a rocket booster will crash onto the far side of the moon. An analysis led by NASA indicates the large object is likely from a lunar mission launched from China in 2014. Could you confirm and provide any more details?

Wang Wenbin: “The Chinese side has noted experts’ analysis and media reports on the matter. According to China’s monitoring, the upper stage of the Chang’e-5 mission has fallen through the Earth’s atmosphere in a safe manner and burnt up completely. China’s aerospace endeavors are always in keeping with international law. We are committed to earnestly safeguarding the long-term sustainability of outer space activities and are ready to have extensive exchanges and cooperation with all sides.”

On the other hand, Wang’s detailing the “upper stage of the Chang’e-5 mission” is not the same as the Chang’e 5-T1 lunar mission upper stage – so that needs clarification.

Off the hook? China upper stage of CZ-3C GJ-II Y12 carrier rocket in 2014.
Via Seger Yu

However, SpaceNews reporter, Andrew Jones, notes that space tracking data from the Space Force’s 18th Space Control Squadron suggests that 2014-065B—the rocket stage in question—did fall into the Earth’s atmosphere in October 2015, a year after launch – and that bolsters China’s claim.

Despite uncertainty about who owns the hardware, it will still slam into the Moon on March 4 at 12:25 UTC, within a few seconds of the predicted time.

Go to the SpaceNews Andrew Jones story — “China claims rocket stage destined for lunar impact is not from its 2014 Moon mission” — at:

For earlier information about this Moon impact object, go to:

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