DART in transit to Vandenberg Space Force Base ahead of November 2021 launch

After completing months of tests and assembly, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) is in transit to Vandenberg Space Force Base (VSFB) in California ahead of its launch. DART is a first-of-its-kind NASA mission to demonstrate an asteroid deflection via a kinetic impact. The probe will launch on a flight-proven Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) at VSFB no earlier than November 23 at 22:20 PST (06:20 UTC on November 24). DART is NASA’s first planetary defense demonstration. It will attempt to impact Dimorphos, a moonlet of the asteroid Didymos. The vehicle is a technology demonstrator built by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL). APL completed the assembly of the primary spacecraft in November 2020. One of the final steps was the installation of NASA’s Evolutionary Xenon Thruster-Commercial (NEXT-C) ion engine. Thermal blankets and the high-gain antenna were later installed. In February 2021, the nearly completed spacecraft began a months-long thermal and environmental test campaign. This confirmed that the spacecraft would survive the harsh environment of space. DART completed environmental testing in the spring of 2021, clearing the way for the APL team to integrate the spacecraft’s final components. Following testing, DART was placed back inside the…

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DART in transit to Vandenberg Space Force Base ahead of November 2021 launch

Updated: October 7, 2021 — 10:26 am