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NASA wants SpaceX to work alongside for asteroid deflecting mission
Elon Musk thanked NASA with a heartwarming message.
NASA has chosen SpaceX to work on its first-ever attempt to deflect a space rock that's hurtling at high speed in space. The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) will take flight placed on a Falcon 9 rocket in June 2021 from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The mission of DART is to smash a satellite into the Didymos asteroid's small moon in order to deflect it off its orbit. While this sounds exciting, if the mission fails, it would result in derailment of NASA's "kinetic impactor technique," however, success will provide crucial data that will inform its deployment against an actual asteroid that's approaching our planet.
The space agency plans to intercept Didymos when it's within 11 million kilometers to the Earth. According to the DART website, the probe won't reach the target until October 2022. It will smash into the space rock at a speed of around 13,500 mph.
The space agency will be spending around $69 million including the launch service for this mission. It will be managed by NASA's Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
SpaceX's collaboration with NASA can be the first step towards a new relationship with NASA evolving beyond the resupply missions to the ISS. Elon Musk also tweeted to express his views on the collaboration: "Thanks on behalf of the SpaceX team. We ♥️♥️♥️ NASA!"
SpaceX Falcon Heavy also launched a Saudi satellite operated by Arabsat. After 34 minutes of the launch, the satellite was successfully deployed. The mission was to place the six-ton Arabsat-6A satellite into geostationary orbit that is located 22,500km above the Earth. The satellite is meant to provide internet, television, telephone, and secure communications to users in the Middle East.
Speaking of the DART mission, NASA will be working closely with the European Space Agency (ESA) as well. ESA is also working on a spacecraft that is capable of navigating itself will be a huge leap for technology. The spacecraft will also be able to avoid space debris which will make it less stressful for space agencies.