NASA and SpaceX test spacecraft to protect Earth from asteroids

12:51, 24 November 2021
NASA and SpaceX test spacecraft to protect Earth from asteroids Photo:

NASA will conduct tests of the DART spacecraft in conjunction with Space X, CNBC reported.

The DART spacecraft is constructed to change the trajectory of an asteroid after its collision with Earth. The launch was carried out by Ilona Mask SpaceX on a Falcon 9 rocket from the US Space Force base in Vandenberg, November 24 Moscow. The broadcast of the launch can be watched on the official NASA YouTube channel.

That was NASA's first space mission to defend Earth and the first launch for SpaceX outside of Earth's orbit.

According to NASA calculations, after separation from the launch vehicle, DART will deploy solar panels and begin a rapprochement with the double asteroid Didymos - Dimorfos. 

The spaceship should collide with Dimorphos at a speed of about 24,000 km / h (15,000 m/h) in the autumn of 2022. As a result of this collision, the orbit of 160-meter Dimorphos, orbiting Didymos, will have to deflect "by a fraction of a percent."

NASA administrator Bill Nelson told the New York Times in an interview: “DART is something of a replay of Bruce Willis’s movie, “Armageddon,” although that was totally fictional.” 

While the mission is testing a method of planet defense, Swiss-American astrophysicist Thomas Zurbuchen claimed that NASA does not have information about any near-term risks to Earth. There are billions of asteroids and comets orbiting the sun, but only a few have a chance of hitting the Earth for a very long time.

The DART mission is costing NASA about $330 million in total, with SpaceX having won a $69 million contract in 2019 for the launch.