China’s foreign ministry has refuted a US allegation that a spent rocket booster expected to crash on the far side of the moon next month was debris from a Chinese lunar mission in 2014.
An independent researcher first identified the rocket booster as a used Falcon rocket stage from Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which is set to crash on the moon on March 4.
The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced earlier this month that its study revealed the object was most likely the booster rocket from China’s Chang’e 5-T1 mission, which launched in 2014.
In October 2014, China used a three-stage Long March 3C rocket to propel the unmanned Chang’e 5-T1 spacecraft to the moon.
The goal of the mission was to see if the spacecraft’s capsule could re-enter Earth’s atmosphere. That following month, the capsule landed on Earth.
The nearly ten-year journey of the alleged rocket booster has reignited debate over space trash and who is legally accountable for tracking debris that floats outside of the Earth’s atmosphere.