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NASA rocket launched to the Moon in 1966 ‘hurtles again into view from Earth’ – World News

NASA rocket launched to the Moon in 1966 ‘hurtles again into view from Earth’ – World News

A NASA rocket half the dimensions of a bus seems to be hurtling again in the direction of Earth at 1,500mph, over 54 years after being launched.

A group on the house programme company had tried a Moon touchdown in 1966, which noticed the rocket swept into the Sun’s orbit after releasing its lander, which then crashed because of a thruster malfunction.

The object, possible round 26ft lengthy, was initially mistaken for an asteroid – and named asteroid 2020 SO – when a Hawaii telescope picked it up in September.

However, consultants at the moment are satisfied it’s the higher part of the Centaur rocket launched by America’s Surveyor 2 lander.

Atlas-Centaur Surveyor blasting off en path to the moon

The telescope was trying to find ‘doomsday rocks’ heading for Earth when it picked up the obvious rocket which the NASA group discarded as junk and it was by no means anticipated to re-appear.

Manager of the NASA NEO Program Office on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, Paul Chodas, mentioned: “I’m fairly jazzed about this.

“It’s been a interest of mine to search out one in every of these and draw such a hyperlink, and I’ve been doing it for many years now.

Atlas-Centaur was a sequence of expendable launch autos

“I could possibly be fallacious on this. I don’t wish to seem overly assured. 

“But it’s the primary time, for my part, that each one the items match along with an precise identified launch.”

The object’s near-circular orbit across the Sun is uncommon for an asteroid, as is the slower pace it’s travelling.

It can be in the identical aircraft as Earth and never tilted above or under – all pointing to it being a rocket quite than an area rock.

In 2002, Mr Chodas additionally discovered what he believes was the leftover Saturn V third stage from 1969’s Apollo 12 – the second NASA mission to land on the Moon.

He estimates the most recent discover will circle the Earth’s orbit for a number of months earlier than discovering its personal orbit across the Sun in March.

Asked if there is a threat it may change course and crash into the Earth, Mr Chodas mentioned it was unlikely, however added: “At least, not this time round.”

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