A 12-meter long piece of space junk is set to hit the Moon and leave a giant crater in its wake

The Moon is about to get walloped by more than 2,700 kilograms of space junk, a punch that will carve out a crater that could fit several semi-trailers.

The leftover rocket will smash into the far side of the Moon at 9,300 kilometers per hour on Friday, away from telescopes’ prying eyes.

It may take weeks, even months, to confirm the impact through satellite images.

The rocket has been tumbling haphazardly through space, experts believe, since China launched it nearly a decade ago. But Chinese officials deny it’s theirs.

No matter whose it is, scientists expect the object to carve out a hole 10 to 20 meters across and send moon dust flying hundreds of kilometers across the barren, pockmarked surface.

China denies it owns the rocket

Low-orbiting space junk is relatively easy to track.

Objects launching deeper into space are unlikely to hit anything and these far-flung pieces are usually soon forgotten, except by a handful of observers who enjoy playing celestial detective on the side.

SpaceX originally took the rap for the upcoming lunar litter after asteroid tracker Bill Gray identified the collision course in January.

A rocket launching
The “mystery” object was originally mistakenly identified as the SpaceX Falcon rocket upper stage from 2015.(Supplied: NASA/Tony Gray and Tim Powers)

He corrected himself a month later, stating the “mystery” object was not in fact a SpaceX Falcon rocket upper stage from the 2015 launch of a deep space climate observatory for NASA.

Gray said it was likely the third stage of a Chinese rocket that sent a test sample capsule to the Moon and back in 2014.

But Chinese ministry officials said the upper stage had re-entered Earth’s atmosphere and burned up.

“According to China’s monitoring, the Chang’e 5 [rocket] has safely entered Earth’s atmosphere, and has completely burned,” said Wang Wenbin, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman when asked by reporters if the object was from the Chinese mission.

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Andrew Naughtie

News reporter and author at @websalespromo