Elon Musk’s SpaceX teams up with NASA for £52m ‘apocalypse practice mission’

The DART spacecraft will be launched using a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in June 2021.

It is expected to arrive at the asteroid 16 months later, when Didymos will be roughly 11 million kilometres away from Earth.

The spacecraft will then use solar electric propulsion to deliberately crash itself into the asteroid.

The carefully-crafted collision will take place with the aid of an onboard camera and sophisticated autonomous navigation software.

It is expected to collide with the secondary space rock, known as a moonlet, at approximately 13,420 miles per hour.

NASA hopes this will change its orbit speed by a fraction of a per cent, which would be enough to change its course.

DART Mission Systems Engineer Elena Adams said: “We’re excited that NASA has selected the vehicle to launch DART on its important planetary defense mission.

“The DART team is eager to move ahead with our spacecraft and mission designs and demonstrate, for the first time in space, a method to keep potentially hazardous bodies from reaching Earth.”

  • Elon Musk
  • NASA
  • Space
  • SpaceX

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