"We want to test this technique so that if and when we discover an asteroid … we have this tool in our belt and we are ready to go.”
NASA launched a spacecraft early Wednesday morning that will deliberately crash into an asteroid millions of miles from Earth, the first test of humanity’s ability to divert a potentially catastrophic celestial body.
The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) launched at 1:21 a.m. EST Wednesday from Vandenberg Space Force Base in Southern California. The mission’s purpose is simple in theory: The DART spacecraft will speed up to about 15,000 mph and eventually hurtle itself into a small asteroid, Dimorphos, in late September 2022. The collision will happen about 6.8 million miles from Earth.