NASA [Not A Space Agency] spacecraft set to intentionally crash into an asteroid to help save Earth

NASA will use a spacecraft later this month to test a planetary-defense method that could one day save Earth.

The Double Asteroid Redirect Test spacecraft, otherwise known as DART, will be used as a battering ram to crash into an asteroid not far from Earth on Sept. 26. The mission is an international collaboration to protect the globe from future asteroid impacts.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch DART from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The current launch opens at 10:21 p.m. PT on Nov. 23 (1:21 a.m. ET on Nov. 24).

After launch, the spacecraft will head to its final destination: the asteroid Didymos and its smaller orbiting asteroid Dimorphos. 

The spacecraft will catch up to the asteroid in September or October 2022 and complete the test soon after.

If DART hits Dimorphos at 15,000 mph as planned, this is the best way to test the kinetic impactor Earth defense theory. 

“The point of a kinetic impactor is you ram your spacecraft into the asteroid you’re worried about, and then you change its orbit around the Sun by doing that,” Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory Planetary astronomer Andy Rivkin said. 

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