Posted by on November 24, 2021 11:02 am
Categories: News Washington Examiner

SpaceX launches satellite to crash into asteroid

In this image taken from NASA video, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, spacecraft onboard, lifts off Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, from Vandenberg Space Force Base in Calif. NASA launched the spacecraft Tuesday night on a mission to smash into an asteroid and test whether it would be possible to knock a speeding space rock off course if one were to threaten Earth. (NASA via AP) AP

SpaceX launches satellite to crash into asteroid

Ryan King November 24, 10:41 AMNovember 24, 10:41 AM

SpaceX launched a spacecraft Tuesday night on a mission testing an asteroid defense system to alter the trajectory of an asteroid.

The spacecraft will travel autonomously toward Dimorphos, an asteroid that does not pose a threat to Earth, and make kinetic contact between Sept. 26 and Oct. 1 of 2022, according to NASA. The successful launch of the Double Asteroid Redirection Test took place at Vandenberg Space Force Base with a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX recovered its rocket booster following the launch.

“DART is turning science fiction into science fact and is a testament to NASA’s proactivity and innovation for the benefit of all,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “In addition to all the ways NASA studies our universe and our home planet, we’re also working to protect that home, and this test will help prove out one viable way to protect our planet from a hazardous asteroid should one ever be discovered that is headed toward Earth.”


DART will collide with the asteroid at a speed of about 4 miles per second, about 6.8 million miles from Earth.

If DART hits an asteroid on course for Earth at a fast enough speed and far enough away from the planet, it will give it a small nudge, altering the asteroid’s long-term trajectory.

“We have not yet found any significant asteroid impact threat to Earth,” said Lindley Johnson, planetary defense officer at NASA. “Our goal is to find any possible impact, years to decades in advance, so it can be deflected with a capability like DART.”

Once DART makes contact with the asteroid, researchers will study the result using telescopes and update their computer models to understand how effective the system is at deflecting asteroids.

DART will release its miniaturized satellite, LICIACube, 10 days before it is projected to hit the asteroid. LICIACube was created by the Italian Space Agency and will capture images of the impact.


DART entered its preliminary design phase in 2017. The project cost an estimated $330 million to develop, according to NPR.

Dimorphos is approximately 160 meters in diameter, according to NASA. When DART makes kinetic contact with the asteroid, NASA expects it to shave 10 minutes off its orbit with the asteroid Didymos.

© 2021 Washington Examiner

Originally appeared at Washington Examiner

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