NASA launches DART mission to crash into an asteroid: What happens next
Nine engines of a SpaceX Falcon 9 roared to life Tuesday, launching a NASA probe from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California at 10:21 p.m. PT. The Double Asteroid Redirection Test probe, known as DART, is programmed to head toward a tiny rock millions of miles from Earth and then collide with it.
Just under nine minutes after launch, the booster that launched DART into space returned to Earth, landing on a droneship in the Pacific Ocean. NASA will now wait for "acquisition of signal," which will let scientists back home know DART is healthy and ready for its long cruise to the rock.
The dazzling night launch signifies the potential dawn of a new era in planetary defense. NASA wants to demonstrate that DART can nudge an asteroid, in …
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