Planet of the Apes (1968) spoilers

Cpt Taylor and his crew launched towards the Orion constellation and at some point of their journey they put themselves into artificial sleep. At the time Taylor went into hibernation their spacecraft was obviously still on the correct route. But eventually the spacecraft crash-landed back on Earth. Has there been a canon explanation for this?

The Wikia claims, without providing a source, that it collided with another spacecraft which made its autopilot send it back to Earth, but that sounds unreasonable as Taylor's crew were the first people to travel to the Orion and no other craft is mentioned to have been sent the exactly same way, and any unmanned craft couldn't return on its own if all went well for it. And perhaps the crew would have been awoken in such dramatic incident. Not to mention that the spacecraft was un-damaged before the splashdown.

My guess is that the spacecraft landed back on Earth because the revolution of the Sun around the Galactic center wasn't taken into account: the Sun revolving around the Galactic core "caught up" with Taylor's spacecraft so that at the time Taylor's craft landed (~ 2,000 years later) the Earth was around the place the Orion had been and the Orion went itself on (that would also explain why the astronauts didn't recognize being on Earth based on constellations, as the stars rotated around the Galactic core, having formed new constellations).

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    2000 years might distort the constellations but wouldn't make them unrecognizable. And 2000 years would represent 0.0008% of one galactic revolution. Commented Apr 19, 2022 at 14:14
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    @RossPresser Well, Taylor, Dodge and Landon didn't recognize they are on Earth although they should have based on constellations. And it is said that the firmament would change within 2000 years, e.g. Proxima Cen wouldn't be the closest star to the Sun anymore and Betelgeuse is about to go supernova.
    – Wingfoot
    Commented Apr 19, 2022 at 14:34
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    In practical terms the odds of them returning to Earth are (literally) astronomical. I'm not sure any "explanation" is going to satisfy anyone. IIRC the craft was not even designed to return. Commented Apr 19, 2022 at 15:57
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    @Wingfoot The apparent postions of the stars will change a little bit in a mere 2,000 years. This chart shows that Proxima Centauri will remain the closest star for about 25,000 years. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nearest_stars_and_brown_dwarfs#/… Betelgeuse is about to go supernova -- in about 100,000 years. news.sky.com/story/… Commented Apr 19, 2022 at 16:33
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    The script makes a reference to "strange cloud cover at night". This is necessary for the astronauts to not have seen the Moon, which would be instantly recognizable. If they can't see the Moon, they can't see constellations.
    – tbrookside
    Commented Apr 19, 2022 at 18:00


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