NASA launches spacecraft to test asteroid defense concept

NASA launches spacecraft to test asteroid defense concept


LOS ANGELES — NASA launched a spacecraft Tuesday night on a mission to smash into an asteroid and test whether it would be possible to knock a speeding space rock off course if one were to threaten Earth.

The DART spacecraft, short for Double Asteroid Redirection Test, lifted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in a $330 million project with echoes of the Bruce Willis movie “Armageddon.”

If all goes well, in September 2022 it will slam head-on into Dimorphos, an asteroid 525 feet across, at 15,000 mph.

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“This isn’t going to destroy the asteroid. It’s just going to give it a small nudge,” said mission official Nancy Chabot of Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, which is

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