SpaceX was awarded with a $65 million contract from NASA to change the course of an asteroid by crashing a spacecraft on it. The mission is called the Double Asteroid Redirection (DART), and it implicates releasing one or more high-speed rockets into space into the route of an approaching near-earth body (an asteroid in this case). The technique known as kinetic impactors, looking like some bumper rockets, will be used to complete the task.
To be successful, the rocket should redirect the asteroid away from the Earth’s trajectory without needing a mission like in the Armageddon movie. NASA explained and demonstrated the task on not such a large scale with the Deep Impact mission movie in 2005. Now, the US space agency will pay SpaceX to crash a space probe on an asteroid.
NASA to pay $65 million to SpaceX to crash a spacecraft on an asteroid to deflect its trajectory
Double Asteroid Redirection’s objective is to lower the reaction time needed to obstruct a disastrous collision from a space mineral plunging toward a major city in the world. At the moment, the National Academy of Sciences thinks that it would take one to two years’ notice time to bounce a smaller asteroid off its path. The numbers could level up to 20 years for larger rocks, and several decades for the largest ones, scaling hundreds of miles in diameter.
It is not clear if kinetic impactors will be sufficient to deflect anything larger than a small asteroid, and for that, there is not many testing data.
A Falcon 9 rocket will be launched from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, according to the strategy. SpaceX is hoping the rocket using solar electric propulsion. DART can deflect the asteroid Didymos’ small moon in October 2022 as at that time, it will be just 11 million kilometers from Earth.
Jasmine holds a Master’s in Journalism from Ryerson University in Toronto and writes professionally in a broad variety of genres. She has worked as a senior manager in public relations and communications for major telecommunication companies, and is the former Deputy Director for Media Relations with the Modern Coalition. Jasmine writes primarily in our LGBTTQQIAAP and Science section.