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A Gray heron flying in front of the moon in the early morning in Kapar on the outskirt of Selangor state, Malaysia, Saturday, March 19, 2022. (AP) A Gray heron flying in front of the moon in the early morning in Kapar on the outskirt of Selangor state, Malaysia, Saturday, March 19, 2022. (AP)

A Gray heron flying in front of the moon in the early morning in Kapar on the outskirt of Selangor state, Malaysia, Saturday, March 19, 2022. (AP)

Monique Curet
By Monique Curet April 18, 2022

No evidence rocket crash was intentional, and it was not visible from Earth

If Your Time is short

Evidence indicates the rocket part was “space junk” from a Chinese rocket mission in 2014 and the crash was unintentional, scientists said.

The impact was not visible from Earth, and the videos included in the post were made in 2020 and 2021 using visual-effects software.

 

A Facebook post made false claims about a real rocket crash that happened last month. 

The April 11 post suggested that when a rocket part crashed into the moon in March, it was planned by the government and visible from Earth. It shows two videos side by side, each depicting an object puncturing the moon.

"Everyone been so focused on Wiil & Jada, Ukraine & Russia. That we missed the event of what happened to the moon on March 4th, 2022," the caption says, with misspellings. "Don't believe Google it. The question is what the hell is the government up to?? I'm pretty sure this wasn't NO ACCIDENT. They distracting and hiding something. I'm pretty sure that wasn't no ‘ROCKET’ I mean it is but a rocket missiel (sic). The ‘ROCKET’ went through."

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Part of a rocket did strike the moon on March 4, but evidence does not support the claim that the crash was planned by the government. Scientists have said the rocket part was "space junk" from a Chinese rocket mission in 2014.

On another occasion, in 2009, NASA intentionally crashed a rocket into the moon for experimental purposes, and information about that mission was made public.

The impact of the March crash was not visible to humans. And the videos in the post that suggest it was were made in 2020 and 2021 using visual-effects software, said Greg Pietrantonio, the person who created them.

The March rocket strike occurred when "a discarded rocket stage that’s been drifting through deep space since at least 2015 collided with the moon," according to National Geographic, which reported that the rocket was "completely obliterated." The impact occurred on the far side of the moon, out of range of ground telescopes.

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The crash was thought to be "the first time a man-made space missile has unintentionally hit the moon," NPR reported. It did not pose any risk to Earth.

The videos included in the Facebook post are labeled "Texas" and "California" — though they were filmed in Pennsylvania and Florida, Pietrantonio said — and each shows something striking the moon. But the videos, which were first posted to TikTok in 2020 and 2021, were made using Adobe After Effects software, Pietrantonio said.

He said making sci-fi/apocalyptic videos is his hobby and he eventually gained a sizable following; he has 617,000 followers on TikTok, and his two videos that are included in the Facebook post have been viewed millions of times each.

Our ruling

A Facebook post suggests that when a rocket part crashed into the moon last month, it was planned by the government and visible from Earth.

Evidence does not support the claim that it was planned by the government. Scientists said the rocket part was "space junk" from a Chinese rocket mission in 2014 and the crash was unintentional.

The crash was not visible from Earth. And the videos in the post were created using visual-effects software in 2020 and 2021.

We rate it False.



 

Our Sources

AFP Fact Check, "​​Video of object hitting Moon was created by digital artist," April 16, 2022

Email interview, Greg Pietrantonio, April 18, 2022

Facebook post, April 11, 2022

National Geographic, "A rogue rocket part collided with the moon," March 4, 2022

NPR, "In a first, a mysterious rocket part is about to slam into the moon — by accident," March 3, 2022

Space.com, "An out-of-control piece of rocket space junk is crashing into the moon: Here's what to know," March 3, 2022

Space.com, "Scientists gearing up for rocket body's March 4 moon crash," March 3, 2022

Space.com, "Slam-Bang Coverage! NASA's LCROSS Moon Crash," Oct. 2, 2009

TikTok video, Sept. 6, 2020

TikTok video, May 15, 2021

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No evidence rocket crash was intentional, and it was not visible from Earth

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