Part of a rocket just hurtled directly into the moon

Fortunately, it’s more space oddity than huge disaster.

The mist wafts passed the waning gibbous moon visible at 68.5% in the early mornings sky.
Geoffrey Swaine/Shutterstock

This is one small step for man, one giant leap for space trash. According to astronomers, a rocket part believed to have been a part of a Chinese rocket launch has hurtled its way through space before finally crashing into the surface of the moon. The impact took place Friday morning, according to Vice — though people watching the skies have been anticipating the collision for weeks.

The incident has been a fascinating one, first called out as possible by astronomer Bill Gray back in January, when his space object tracking software spotted the out-of-control space junk. While it was initially thought to be part of a SpaceX launch, Gray later updated his findings to note that it was likely a rocket stage from a Chinese launch. China denied it, but other skywatchers backed Gray’s assessment.

On Friday, the rocket came into contact with the Hertzprung crater, located on the dark side of the moon. Because of where the impact occurred, there is no way to visually confirm it happened, though scientists are confident that the rocket stage did hit the moon. That makes it the first-ever human-made object to unintentionally hit the Moon. We used to triumphantly land people on the moon, but given how things are going in the world these days, smashing into it with trash instead sounds about right.