Planetary Defense: Italy’s LICIACube Flies with DART Toward a Collision with an Asteroid

LICIACube (Credit: Argotec)

The journey into deep space of the satellite of the Italian Space Agency’s LICIACube satellite has begun.

ROME (ASI PR) — The first planetary defense mission of NASA DART, which carries the LICIACube satellite built by Argotec, in collaboration and with the contribution of the Italian Space Agency (ASI), was launched as scheduled on Nov. 24 at 07.21 Italian time from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

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Planetary Defenders: After NASA’s DART Comes ESA’s Hera Mission

NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirect Test, DART, mission is intended to collide with the smaller of two bodies of the Didymos binary asteroid system in autumn 2022. ESA’s Hera mission will then perform follow-up post-impact observations. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The world will be watching the milestone launch of NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test, DART, spacecraft on Wednesday, 24 November, intended to alter one small part of the Solar System forever.

DART will collide with the small moon of an asteroid in order to shift its orbit around its parent body – to test the concept of diverting threatening objects away from Earth.

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NASA, SpaceX Launch DART: First Test Mission to Defend Planet Earth

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches with the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, spacecraft onboard, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, Pacific time (Nov. 24 Eastern time) from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. DART is the world’s first full-scale planetary defense test, demonstrating one method of asteroid deflection technology. The mission was built and is managed by Johns Hopkins APL for NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), the world’s first full-scale mission to test technology for defending Earth against potential asteroid or comet hazards, launched Wednesday at 1:21 a.m. EST on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4 East at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

Just one part of NASA’s larger planetary defense strategy, DART – built and managed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland – will impact a known asteroid that is not a threat to Earth. Its goal is to slightly change the asteroid’s motion in a way that can be accurately measured using ground-based telescopes.

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NASA TV to Air DART Prelaunch Activities, Launch

Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft at Didymos. (Credit: NASA)

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for the agency’s first planetary defense test mission, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART). The mission will help determine if intentionally crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid is an effective way to change its course. DART’s target asteroid is not a threat to Earth.

DART is scheduled to launch no earlier than 1:20 a.m. EST Wednesday, Nov. 24 (10:20 p.m. PST Tuesday, Nov. 23) on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

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ESA Scales Up Planetary Defense Facilities

Europe’s Planetary Defenders settle into their new home. (Credit: ESA)

FRASCATI, Italy (ESA PR) — The new heart of ESA’s Planetary Defence Office was inaugurated today, heralding a new chapter in the Agency’s work to protect Earth from dangerous near-Earth objects, aka asteroids.

For years, ESA has been dedicated to opening our eyes to hazards in space, and when it came to asteroids this meant ensuring Europe had the capability to detect, track and understand what’s out there.

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LICIACube is Ready for the First Planetary Defense Mission

LICIACube (Credit: Argotec)

An Italian microSat, made by Argotec and ASI, which will fly with NASA towards an asteroid

ROME (ASI PR) — LICIACube, the microsatellite built entirely in the Argotec plants in Turin on behalf of and in collaboration with the Italian Space Agency (ASI), will be delivered and shipped in the coming weeks to the integration site in the United States in preparation for the launch, scheduled for the end year, of the first planetary defense mission from future potential asteroid threats .

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NASA’s First Planetary Defense Mission Target Gets a New Name

DART mission profile (Credit: NASA)

LAUREL, Md. (NASA PR) — Nearly two decades ago, a near-Earth asteroid was discovered to have a moon and the binary system was given the name “Didymos”—Greek for “twin,” a loose description of the larger main body and the smaller orbiting moon, which became unofficially known as Didymos B. 

In 2022, that moon will be the target of NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), the first full-scale demonstration of an asteroid deflection technology for planetary defense. The DART spacecraft will execute a kinetic impact, deliberately crashing into the asteroid to change its motion in space. To mark this historic mission, Didymos B is getting an official name of its own: Dimorphos.

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DART Mission To Deflect Asteroid Moves Toward Early 2022 Launch

DART mission (Credit: Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA’s planetary defense mission to deflect a small asteroid continues to move toward a February 2022 launch date while holding to its $313.9 million budget, according to a new assessment by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) will fly to the binary asteroid Didymos and impact the smaller of the two bodies to assess techniques for deflecting dangerous asteroids on collision courses with Earth.

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