SpaceX Wins NASA's Anti-Asteroid DART Contract

  • SpaceX Wins NASA's Anti-Asteroid DART Contract

SpaceX Wins NASA's Anti-Asteroid DART Contract

The mission costs $69 million. The cost includes start-up and all related services. The DART mission is now in Phase B, led by JHU/APL and managed by the Planetary Missions Program Office at Marshall Space Flight Center for NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office.

The announcement marks yet another achievement for Musk's firm in just a few days; on Thursday, SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon Heavy for the second time ever, logging the huge rocket's first commercial mission. As the DART mission will launch on a Falcon 9 rocket, it's a relatively cheaper price compared to past NASA contracts for Falcon 9 launches. Another Falcon 9 launch, the Surface Water and Ocean Topography satellite, was awarded in 2016 with a price of $112 million.

The mission will also target another object which is scientifically known as a "moonlet" as NASA states its "more typical of the size of asteroids that could pose a more common hazard to Earth".

SpaceX's collaboration with NASA can be the first step towards a new relationship with NASA evolving beyond the resupply missions to the ISS. "This contract underscores the confidence to NASA, the Falcon 9's ability to perform critical research tasks, while offering the best value launch in the industry".

Since we don't have much testing data, it's unclear if kinetic impactors - which really should be called bumper rockets - will be effective on anything larger than a small asteroid.

The DART mission now is targeted to launch in June 2021 on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The space agency plans to intercept Didymos when it's within 11 million kilometers to the Earth.

'The collision will change the speed of the moonlet in its orbit around the main body by a fraction of one percent, enough to be measured using telescopes on Earth'.