NASA Selects Falcon 9 Rocket for Launch of Vandenberg Air Force Asteroid Mission | Local news

The double asteroid redirection test, or DART, will demonstrate a method to protect the Earth from the dangers of space

DART mission
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The rendering of an artist illustrates the DART mission aimed at targeting the smaller of the two objects, left, that make up the binary asteroid Didymos, which will be located about 7 million kilometers from the Earth at the time of the impact, expected in October 2022. (NASA / Johns Hopkins APL photo)

NASA's first mission on an asteroid, designed to protect the planet from the dangers of space, will fly a Falcon 9 rocket that will take off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in two years.

The space agency recently announced that it has chosen the Space Exploration Technologies rocket to perform the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission, led by Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory.

"We are delighted that NASA has chosen the vehicle to launch DART as part of its important global defense mission," said Elena Adams, DART Mission Systems Engineer at APL. "The DART team is eager to advance the design of our spacecraft and missions and to demonstrate, for the first time in space, a method to prevent potentially dangerous bodies from reaching Earth. "

The spacecraft will demonstrate the ability to deflect an asteroid by hitting it at high speed, a technique known as the kinetic impactor.

By crushing the probe in an asteroid at a high speed, scientists hope to be able to flee space rock.

DART, which will include a solar electric propulsion, has a date to intercept the small moon of the asteroid Didymos in October 2022.

At this point, the asteroid – or what NASA has called a moon – will be within 11 million kilometers of the Earth.

According to NASA, DART will use an onboard camera and sophisticated autonomous navigation software.

Scientists expect the collision to change the speed of the moon by 1% in its orbit around the main body, which is sufficient to be measured using telescopes on Earth.

The total cost of launching the DART by NASA is about $ 69 million, which includes launch service and other mission-related costs, space agency representatives said.

The launch of DART is scheduled for June 2021 on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex-4 on the south base.

While NASA's asteroid mission will not occur for two years, another Falcon 9 rocket is expected to take off from Vandenberg in May to launch a Canadian Earth Observation mission with three small but identical satellites.

The Radarsat Constellation Mission will continue previous satellite efforts to provide maritime surveillance with ice, surface winds, oil pollution and vessel monitoring, disaster management and monitoring of agricultural ecosystems. , wet forests and coastal changes.

Radarsat-1 was launched from Vandenberg in 1995 aboard a Delta II rocket, while Radarsat-2 traveled in space from Kazakhstan aboard the Russian Soyuz rocket in 2007.

– Janene Scully, editor-in-chief of Noozhawk County North, can be reached at . (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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