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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DART on Target – Six Questions with Mission Manager Clayton Kachele

DART mission (Credit: Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory)

Editor’s Note: DART is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg on Nov. 23 at 10:21 p.m. PST (Nov. 24 at 1:21 a.m. EST). NASA will stream the launch live on its website. 

By Wayne Smith
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

It sounds like a plot for a movie but protecting Earth from a potential impact by a hazardous asteroid is the objective of an upcoming NASA mission.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission is a planetary defense-driven test of technologies for mitigating such a threat. DART’s target asteroid is not a threat to Earth. The DART spacecraft launch window opens Nov. 24. It will launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

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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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NASA, Small Business Advance Autonomous Metal 3D Printing in Space

EBF3 technology was tested in a simulated zero-gravity environment and worked successfully. (Credits: NASA)

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — Researchers are one step closer to autonomously 3D printing metals in space.

Electron Beam Freeform Fabrication, or EBF3, uses an electron beam gun, dual wire feed, and computer controls to manufacture metallic structures. In development for more than two decades, the process still relies on a human to observe and adjust the system.

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DART Arrives at Vandenberg Space Force Base, Its Final Stop Before Launch

Inside a cleanroom at Johns Hopkins APL, the DART spacecraft being moved into a specialized shipping container that headed across the country to Vandenberg Space Force Base near Lompoc, California, where DART is scheduled to launch from late next month. (Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Ed Whitman)

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — Just two days after leaving the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, in a specialized container carefully strapped to the deck of a semi-trailer truck, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft arrived in California — its final stop here on Earth. 

The truck, spacecraft and a small motorcade of APL engineers and technicians pulled into Vandenberg Space Force Base near Lompoc, California, on Saturday, Oct. 2, in the early afternoon local time. 

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Rocket Lab Selected to Launch NASA’s Advanced Composite Solar Sail System

Advanced Composite Solar Sail System on NanoAvionics’ 12U CubeSat. (Credit: NanoAvionics)

The Electron rocket will deploy an innovative satellite designed to test new deployable structures and materials technologies for solar sail propulsion systems, paving the way for sunlight to power future deep space exploration

LONG BEACH, Calif., October 6, 2021 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a global leader in launch services and space systems, today announced it has been selected to launch NASA’s Advanced Composite Solar Sail System, or ACS3, on the Electron launch vehicle.

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NASA Empowers Workforce to Advance Deep Space Technologies

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 10 proposals led by early-career employees across the agency for two-year projects that will support the development of new capabilities for deep space human exploration.

These proposals were selected under Project Polaris, a new initiative to support the NASA workforce in efforts to meet the challenges of sending humans to the Moon and Mars. Project Polaris seeks to fill high-priority capability gaps on deep space missions like those planned under Artemis and introduce new technologies into human exploration flight programs. The project also aims to create opportunities for early-career employees across NASA centers to gain experience building and testing flight hardware while developing technologies and reducing risk for future human exploration missions.

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Spacecraft Deorbiting Device Developed at Purdue Ready for Firefly Alpha Launch on Thursday

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Purdue University PR) — A drag sail that a team at Purdue University developed to pull launch vehicles in space back to Earth is scheduled to undergo a test launch on Thursday (Sept. 2).

The mission, set to take off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, will evaluate how well the prototype helps its vehicle deorbit from space after mission completion. A livestream of the launch will be available through Everyday Astronaut.

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Going to Extremes with MISSE: Advancing New Materials and Technology Outside the ISS

Photo documentation of the Materials ISS Experiment Flight Facility (MISSE-FF) platform aboard the International Space Station. (Credits: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., August 27, 2021 (CASIS PR) – The International Space Station (ISS) is an incredible research platform that has hosted more than 3,000 experiments—but not all that research takes place inside the orbiting laboratory. On the outside of the ISS, the extreme space conditions provide an unparalleled environment to test new materials and advance technologies in ways not possible on Earth.

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Inflatable Heat Shield One Step Closer to 2022 Demonstration

The flexible thermal protection system contains two outer surface layers made of ceramic fiber fabric, several layers of insulator, and then a gas barrier that prevents hot gases from getting to directly to the inflatable structure. The inflatable structure is a high temperature capable, flexible structure that is inflated to provide the cone shape that the FTPS drapes over. (Credits: NASA/Greg Swanson)

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — A NASA technology that could one day help land humans on Mars is about to head into final integration and testing before a sub-orbital flight test next year.

Two key components of the Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID) are complete and recently arrived at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. At Langley, engineers will test the complete system to ensure LOFTID is flight ready.

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NASA Construction & Environmental Compliance Budget Request Fact Sheet

Santa Susana Field Laboratory in California.

NASA FACT SHEET
FY 2022 Budget Request
Construction & Environmental Compliance & Restoration
($ Millions)

Construction & Environmental Compliance Restoration (CECR) provides for capital repairs and improvements to NASA’s infrastructure and environmental compliance and restoration activities. With installations in 14 states, NASA collectively manages an inventory of more than 5,000 buildings and structures, of which 83 percent are beyond designed life. To ensure American preeminence in space, science, technology, and avionics, the Budget funds repair, replacement, and modernization of NASA’s infrastructure. The FY 2022 budget provides for vital repair and construction work to ensure NASA’s physical assets are safe, reliable, and mission-ready.

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NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Flies Faster, Farther on Third Flight

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter can be seen hovering during its third flight on April 25, 2021, as seen by the left Navigation Camera aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The craft’s April 25 flight was conducted at speeds and distances beyond what had ever been previously demonstrated, even in testing on Earth.


WRIGHT BROTHERS FIELD, Mars (NASA PR) — NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter continues to set records, flying faster and farther on Sunday, April 25, 2021 than in any tests it went through on Earth. The helicopter took off at 1:31 a.m. EDT (4:31 a.m. PDT), or 12:33 p.m. local Mars time, rising 16 feet (5 meters) – the same altitude as its second flight. Then it zipped downrange 164 feet (50 meters), almost half the length of a football field, reaching a top speed of 6.6 feet per second (2 meters per second).

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NASA to Host Virtual Viewing of Orion Spacecraft Drop Test

Engineers at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia begin a new series of four water impact drop tests with a test version of the capsule for NASA’s Orion spacecraft to better understand what Orion and its crew may experience when landing in the Pacific Ocean after Artemis missions to the Moon. (Credits: NASA)

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — Engineers will drop a 14,000-pound test version of the Orion spacecraft into the Hydro Impact Basin at NASA’s Langley Research Center’s Landing and Impact Research Facility in Hampton, Virginia, at 1:45 p.m. EDT Tuesday, April 6.

The test will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app and the agency’s website, and will livestream on multiple agency social media platforms, including the Facebook channels for Orion and Langley.

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Sensors Collect Crucial Data on Mars Landings with Arrival of Perseverance

The MEDLI2 hardware is visible on the Mars 2020 heat shield as the heat shield falls toward the surface of Mars. The critical MEDLI2 electronics, two of the seven heat shield pressure transducers; these measure the stagnation pressure during the hypersonic and supersonic phases of flight, and one of the 11 heat shield temperature locations can be seen. The copper-colored harness snaking around the heat shield is also evident. The circuitous path of the harness was to avoid the rover wheels and other items on the bottom of the rover. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — “Tango delta. Touchdown confirmed. Perseverance safely on the surface of Mars, ready to begin seeking the signs of past life.” For more than six years, the Mars Entry, Descent, and Landing Instrumentation 2 (MEDLI2) team waited to hear these words.

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