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Questions After Chinese Rocket Slams In To the Moon


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According to China, the payloads were successfully deployed, and the mission was a success. And it insists the Long March 3C rocket that had boosted the mission into space had burnt up in the Earth’s orbit, as intended. 

But US Space Command, tasked with tracking and monitoring potential threats in space, identified it as “Object 85900”, which had been tracked swinging between the Earth and Moon ever since.


Space accidents are bad enough, says Dr Jason Held of space operations control firm Saber Astronautics.

“There is a sense we get from the space industry of reputation risk; for example, if something goes wrong, nobody wants to admit ownership of it,” he told Cosmos. “Saber is aware of collisions that nobody talks about and hell-hath-no-fury like a VC-funded business when they feel like their investment dollars are at risk.”


But governments are also worried about reputation.

“Nations have responsibility for the launch licenses under their control,” Held says. “Nobody owns the Moon, so nobody will approach China with a bill. But it does point to a future where we have to start tracking the lunar sky for debris for these future moon bases that we’re planning.”


But space is also increasingly a theatre for international espionage.

And the unexpected movements of supposedly benign satellites are causing a headache for space traffic controllers the world over. Not to mention the now almost regular activities of undeclared “inspector” satellites moving disturbingly close to billion-dollar space communications and navigation assets.

And that’s just one of the more obvious military activities in space.:snip:

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