Moon Craters and the Russians

Image (Credit): USSR’s Luna 2 spacecraft. (

So who owned the rocket stage that hit the Moon earlier this month? I had earlier noted the speculation pertaining to both SpaceX and then the Chinese rockets. Surprisingly, it is still is not clear who owned that rocket stage and maybe we will never know. That is not a good answer for the European Space Agency’s Space Safety Programme, which stated:

The upcoming lunar impact illustrates well the need for a comprehensive regulatory regime in space, not only for the economically crucial orbits around Earth but also applying to the Moon.

While that case has yet to be solved, we are pretty certain about the first Earth-launched rocked to hit the Moon. We can blame the Soviets for that strike back in 1959 with its Luna 2 (nicknamed the Lunik 2). At least the goal in that case was to hit the Moon.

Launched on September 12, 1959, it took 35 hours to travel the distance between the Earth and Moon. Luna 1, launched by the Soviets earlier that year, was supposed to hit the Moon but it missed by about 3,700 miles. You can see more about Luna 2 via this dated news clip.