SpaceX to help NASA’s first mission to redirect an asteroid

The takeoff is scheduled for 2021.

NASA chose SpaceX to participate in its first attempt to hijack an asteroid. The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) will be launched on a Falcon 9 rocket in June 2021 from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Its mission: to break a satellite in the small moon of the asteroid Didymos to make it fall from its orbit. What appears to be the plot of a Michael Bay movie could be NASA’s first line of defense against asteroids heading for Earth.

This is the practice at bat. But what is at stake is still high: a flaw could derail NASA’s “kinetic impact technique,” which will provide the crucial data that will guide its deployment against a real asteroid in a collision with Earth.

NASA plans to intercept Didymos when it is less than 11 million kilometers from our planet; in comparison, the Moon has 240,000 miles and the sun is 93 million kilometers. According to the DART website, the probe will not reach its target until October 2022, when it will enter the moon of Didymos at a speed of about 6,500 km / h (6 km / s).

The total cost of the mission is estimated at approximately $ 69 million, including the launch service, which will be managed by NASA’s launch services program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. After the successful launch and triple landing of Falcon Heavy, SpaceX participates in DART and sees that its relationship with NASA evolves beyond its commercial missions of loading and replenishment in the ISS. As usual, Elon Musk shared his reaction in a tweet: “Thank you on behalf of the SpaceX team, we have ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ NASA!”