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NASA launches DART spacecraft to save planet Earth


NASA launches DART spacecraft to save planet Earth

NASA launches its first planetary defense mission to practice what the agency might do if a wayward asteroid threatened Earth.

The American space agency’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission was launched at 10:20 pm local time Tuesday night from the Space Launch Complex 4 at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. DART was launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket set to travel millions of kilometers out to crash into an asteroid in a planetary defense test.

DART is a 610 kg spacecraft that will spend almost ten months traveling to a pair of asteroids named Didymos and Dimorphos. John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland designed and built the Dart spacecraft. The space firm Redwire contributed to the spacecraft’s navigation and solar arrays that will power it.

The mission’s goal is to successfully impact the smaller of the two asteroids, Dimorphos, with the spacecraft traveling at nearly 15,000 miles per hour, and see how the impact will change the asteroid’s trajectory.

The DART mission has cost NASA about $330 million in total. SpaceX won a $69 million contract in 2019 for the launch of the DART mission. DART mission is NASA’s first-ever planetary defense mission. The mission is also SpaceX’s first mission launching a spacecraft to another planetary object.

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