DART, NASA’s mission to reroute an asteroid, has been launched – the spacecraft is traveling on its own.
From Space Launch Complex 4 at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, a Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft took off.
The launch took place at 10:21 p.m.
On November 23 at 12:21 a.m. PST (1:21 a.m. PST),
DART will soon embark on its journey to collide with an asteroid.
Following the launch, a series of events take place.
The first stage main engine on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will shut down, and the second stage will separate from it.
The second stage will fire, followed by the DART spacecraft’s payload fairing being jettisoned about three minutes after liftoff.
To put the satellite on the correct trajectory, the second stage will cut off and then restart a few minutes later.
The second stage will cutoff about a minute later, and DART will separate from the second stage.
The DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) spacecraft has separated from the Falcon 9 second stage and is now flying independently.
The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), NASA’s first planetary defense flight mission, aims to test and validate a method for protecting Earth in the event of an asteroid impact.
The DART mission aims to alter an asteroid’s orbit via kinetic impact, specifically by crashing a spacecraft into Didymos, a smaller member of the binary asteroid system.
Didymos and its small orbiting moonlet Dimorphos make up the Didymos asteroid system.
DART will slam into the latter in 2022, a boulder with a diameter of 160 meters (525 feet), altering its orbital period around Didymos by about 10 minutes.
Scientists will be able to compare Dimorphos’ orbit around Didymos before and after impact using ground-based telescope observations.