NASA has Successfully Launched a Mission to Slam into an Asteroid

We’re off to slam into an asteroid…to give it a little nudge.

NASA has Successfully Launched a Mission to Slam into an Asteroid
NASA’s DART mission launch. Credit: NASA

For the first time in history, NASA has successfully launched a defence mission. It involves slamming into an asteroid. The aim is, of course, to deflect the asteroid. It is the first planetary defence method tried by NASA. It is a DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) mission.

NASA launched the DART Mission was launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California at 1:21 a.m. ET, Nov. 24. This mission aims to collide with an asteroid to change its orbit intentionally.


Built by Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, the DART mission aims to protect our planet from potential comet or asteroid impacts. This time the asteroid is an asteroid system Didymos, a 530-foot-wide (160-metre) moonlet, to be more specific. It is hanging out near-Earth but is not a threat as of now, so NASA has picked it for a safe test.


DART separated from the second stage of the rocket at 2:17 a.m., and mission operators received the first data transmission. Then the process of moving the spacecraft to a safe spot to deploy its solar arrays was initiated.

It was successful, and the spacecraft amazingly unfurled the 28-foot-long solar arrays in about two hours. It will power the craft and NASA’s evolutionary xenon thruster.


If you want to see the collisions, you need to wait. It will take almost a year to get to that stage. The spacecraft is expected to catch up with Didymos between Sept. 26 and Oct. 1, 2022. After that, it will intentionally body slam it at about 4 miles per second (or 6 kilometres per second).

NASA believes that the impact will reduce the orbit of the asteroid by minutes. After the impact, they will study the changes and use the information in future models to help avoid unwanted collisions with the earth.


Bill Nelson, a NASA Administrator, said, “DART is turning science fiction into science fact and is a testament to NASA’s proactivity and innovation for the benefit of all. 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.”


NASA DART Mission Launch


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