NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft is put within the nosecone of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket in preparation for open.

Ed Whitma / Johns Hopkins APL / NASA

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is situation to open a fundamental-of-its-sort planetary defense mission for NASA within the early hours of Wednesday morning, sending the spacecraft on its option to intentionally crash into an asteroid.

“We’re smashing into an asteroid,” NASA’s Open Products and services Program senior open director Omar Baez stated at some stage in a press convention. “I cannot imagine we’re doing that”

Is assumed as the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (or DART) mission, the gap company is attempting to be taught “how to deflect a possibility that would come” in direction of Earth, NASA affiliate administrator of the science mission directorate Thomas Zurbuchen stated.

“Leisure assured, that rock correct now would possibly per chance well per chance be now not a possibility,” he stated.

SpaceX is launching DART on a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Dwelling Force Imperfect in California, with a liftoff window that begins at 1: 20 a.m. ET on Wednesday.

DART is a 610-kilogram spacecraft that can expend 10 months traveling to a pair of asteroids, which would possibly per chance per chance per chance per chance be named Didymos and Dimorphos. Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland built DART, whereas space company Redwire contributed the spacecraft’s navigation and solar arrays that can energy it.

The aim of the mission is to hit the smaller of the two asteroids, Dimorphos, with the spacecraft at about 15,000 miles per hour and behold how the affect adjustments the asteroid’s trajectory.

A top level view of the DART mission understanding.

NASA/Johns Hopkins APL

The DART mission is costing NASA about $330 million in complete, with SpaceX having received a $69 million contract in 2019 for the open. No longer solely is it NASA’s first planetary defense mission, nonetheless DART additionally represents SpaceX’s first mission launching a spacecraft to one more planetary body.

“Right here’s factual the most lifelike mission. Thank you serious about enabling SpaceX to be a segment of a crucial planetary defense mission,” SpaceX director of civil satellite tv for computer missions Julianna Scheiman stated at some stage in a press convention.

SpaceX take a look at fired its Falcon 9 rocket final Friday in preparation for the open.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket with the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, spacecraft onboard is seen at some stage in morning time on Nov. 23, 2021 at Vandenberg Dwelling Force Imperfect in California.

Bill Ingalls / NASA

To give a sense of scale, the Dimorphos asteroid is set the dimension of the Immense Pyramid of Giza, whereas the Didymos asteroid is wider in diameter than the One World Trade Center tower in New York Metropolis is mountainous. After arriving on the asteroids, and forward of it smashes into Dimorphos, the DART spacecraft will deploy a itsy-bitsy dice satellite tv for computer to expend photography of the affect tournament.

Whereas the mission is attempting out a formula of planetary defense, Zurbuchen emphasized that NASA is now not responsive to any attain-time-frame risks to Earth. There are billions of asteroids and comets orbiting the sun, nonetheless solely a few delight in of enterprise of hitting the Earth for a in point of fact long time.

“Of the total attain Earth objects that we know on the present time, none of them are a possibility within 100 years or so,” Zurbuchen stated.

Infographic showing the sizes of the two asteroids within the Didymos gadget relative to some objects on Earth.

NASA/Johns Hopkins APL

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