The company Elon musk won the contract space Agency NASA to launch a space mission DART, the purpose of which will be the first ever attempt to change the trajectory of the asteroid. As indicated by sources, the state Agency decided to choose SpaceX because the latter offered their services for much less than offered by other potential contractors. The launch of the project Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) is scheduled for June 2021 with the US air force base Vandenberg in California.
To assess and create protection from the impact of asteroids two years ago, NASA established a Coordination Bureau for planetary defense (Planetary Defense Coordination Office, PDCO). It was searching and adding catalog of near-earth asteroids and comets that may pose a potential threat to our planet. This office will issue a warning to the inhabitants of the Earth on a possible collision and that it will be to plan and coordinate with the US government, the operation by the deviation of the asteroid.
DART is an experiment aimed at understanding how realistic is it to make such an operation and to deflect an asteroid of medium size. To test a selected asteroid Didim size of 800 meters. Its feature is the presence of a small satellite with a size of only 150 metres away. Both the threat to Earth is not present, but represent excellent targets for the validation of the concept of method, deviations of a trajectory of movement of such bodies. Until recently, the project existed only in concept, but in 2017, the leadership of the space Agency endorsed the concept and allowed to move to the next phase — design.
The development is carried out by efforts of experts of the applied physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University. In the framework of the asteroid Didim planned launch of the spacecraft with an electric motor and weighing about 500 pounds. Is expected to push the machine to the asteroid at the speed of 6 km/s, thereby changing its trajectory. Up to your goal space “kamikaze” will have to overcome 11 million kilometers.
The total cost of the project is $ 69 million. The main part of these funds, 61 million dollars, budat aimed at launch of the carrier rocket Falcon 9 company SpaceX, which is much less than the money that usually the private company takes for its services from NASA (about $ 100 million for the launch), said portal Space News.
At the time of collision of the spacecraft with the asteroid scientists want to measure the transfer of kinetic energy, as well as to monitor the particular bias of the satellite orbit of the asteroid.
“SpaceX is proud to continue the successful partnership with NASA in the maintenance of important interplanetary missions. This agreement underlines the confidence in the ability of NASA Falcon 9 to perform important scientific mission and to provide the best in industry quality start,” commented the company’s President, Gwynne Shotwell.
The spacecraft will reach the asteroid and its moon no earlier than October of 2022.