× NASA’s DART Mission Launches to Crash Into Killer Asteroid and Defend Earth
For the first time in history, NASA launched a satellite into orbit around an asteroid-killing asteroid on Friday — part of a mission to prepare for a future visit to the space rock, confirmed by the Aerospace Corporation, which provides support to NASA on an ongoing basis.
“The success of DART’s journey to the asteroid is a historic milestone in our quest to discover and deflect potentially dangerous near-Earth asteroids,” according to Alfred McEwen, the principal investigator for the Osiris-Rex mission at the University of Arizona.
“With this mission, we can tell people all over the world what a great day in space exploration it is when you’re able to successfully perform what’s called an atmospheric recovery — where you capture an asteroid and bring it into orbit around the moon.”
The spacecraft will spend the next two years working to pinpoint the location of the two-mile-wide space rock. Osiris-Rex will collect a sample from this massive rock in 2023 and bring it back to Earth in 2027.
“We have put this entire mission together over 15 years from the first time that we discovered this asteroid,” said Stephan Meier, director of planetary science at the Planetary Science Institute. “Everything from the spacecraft side is set, all we need is the target and the asteroid itself.”
The Osiris-Rex spacecraft has been named after an Egyptian god who protected the Nile.