NASA Planetary Defense Mission Aims to Push Distant Asteroid Off Its Path


The first planetary defense mission got under way early Wednesday, when the National Aeronautics and Space Administration launched a space probe designed to deflect a distant asteroid in a test of technology that might one day save the world.
The $324 million Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, mission—a practice run for future efforts to protect Earth from collisions with asteroids and comets—launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 1:21 a.m. EST from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. Next fall, after a journey of more than 6 million miles, the probe will crash at 15,000 miles an hour into Dimorphos, a tiny moonlet that orbits a larger asteroid called Didymos.


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