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Team Vandenberg Launches the NASA DART Mission

Team Vandenberg Launches the NASA DART Mission

A SpaceX Falcon 9 carrying NASA’s first planetary defense test mission, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), launches from Space Launch Complex-4 at Vandenberg Space Force Base, CA, Nov. 23, 2021, at 10:21 p.m. Pacific Time. The DART spacecraft is designed to direct itself to impact an asteroid while traveling at a speed of roughly 15,000 miles per hour (24,000 kilometers per hour). Its target is the asteroid moonlet Dimorphos (Greek for “two forms”), which orbits a larger asteroid named Didymos (Greek for “twin”). In fall 2022, DART is projected to impact Dimorphos to change its orbit within the Didymos binary asteroid system. The Didymos system is the ideal candidate for DART because it poses no actual impact threat to Earth, and scientists can measure the change in Dimorphos’ orbit with ground-based telescopes. (U.S. Space Force photo by Michael Peterson)

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. --

Team Vandenberg launched a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex-4 here today, Nov. 23, at 10:21 p.m. Pacific Time. 

Col. Rob Long, Space Launch Delta 30 commander, was the launch decision authority. 

“It takes the entire team for a safe and successful launch,” said Long. “I congratulate NASA on achieving the first step in this program’s journey on its planetary defense test mission. We are proud to be a part of this team.” 

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carried NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test, the world’s first full-scale planetary defense test, into orbit from Vandenberg Space Force Base. True to its name, DART is a focused mission, proving that a spacecraft can autonomously navigate to a target asteroid and intentionally collide with it (called a kinetic impact) at roughly 4 miles per second (6 kilometers per second). Its target, which poses no threat to Earth, is the asteroid moonlet.