(Bloomberg) -- Debris from one of Elon Musk’s rockets will crash into the moon in March, astronomers said, highlighting the growing risk from space junk as companies plan on launching tens of thousands of satellites.

The second stage of a Falcon 9 rocket, sent into orbit by Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. in 2015, will hit on March 4, according to Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics, which is operated by Harvard University and the Smithsonian Institution.

“For those asking: yes, an old Falcon 9 second stage left in high orbit in 2015 is going to hit the moon on March 4,” he tweeted on his verified Twitter account, confirming predictions made by Bill Gray of Project Pluto, which supplies software to amateur and professional astronomers. 

SpaceX is in the midst of a rapid expansion of Starlink, a constellation of low-Earth orbit satellites that will eventually number more than 30,000 and provide high-speed internet coverage around the world.

Rivals such as OneWeb, backed by Indian telecommunications tycoon Sunil Mittal, have similar constellations planned. Boeing Co., Astra Space Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.’s Kuiper Systems LLC are among companies that have applied to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission for more than 35,000 satellites.

All those launches raise the chances of more uncontrolled crashes, space experts say.

The Chinese government last month filed a complaint with the United Nations alleging that two of Musk’s satellites had near misses with China’s space station.


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