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NASA is paying SpaceX $69M to crash a rocket into an asteroid ๐Ÿ˜‚

(Topic created on: 04-13-2019 10:58 PM)
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NASA today awarded SpaceX a $69 million contract to redirect an asteroid off its intended path. The mission, called the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), uses a technique known as a kinetic impactor. It involves sending one or more high-speed spacecraft into the path of an approaching near-earth object โ€” in this case, an asteroid.


 If successful, the rocket would steer the asteroid away from the Earthโ€™s orbital path, avoiding the need for an Armageddon sequel, presumably. NASA demonstrated this on a smaller scale with the Deep Impact mission in 2005 โ€” the name of yet another asteroid movie that we probably arenโ€™t going to need a sequel for. DARTโ€™s goal is to bring down the reaction time needed to thwart a catastrophic impact from a space rock hurtling toward a major city. Currently, the National Academy of Sciences predicts that it would require one to two yearsโ€™ warning time to deflect a smaller asteroid. For larger asteroids, that figure could balloon to 20 years, or several decades for the largest rocks, measuring hundreds of kilometers in diameter. Since we donโ€™t have much testing data, itโ€™s unclear if kinetic impactors โ€” which really should be called bumper rockets โ€” will be effective on anything larger than a small asteroid. In June of 2021 though, weโ€™ll be one step closer to finding out. The plan is to launch a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Using solar electric propulsion, SpaceX is hoping it and DART can intercept the asteroid Didymosโ€™ small moon in October 2022. At that point, the asteroid will be just 11 million kilometers from Earth.
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