SpaceX is targeting Tuesday, November 23 for Falcon 9’s launch of NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission to an interplanetary transfer orbit from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
The instantaneous launch window is at 10:21 p.m. PST and a backup opportunity is available on Wednesday, November 24 at 10:20 p.m. PST.
“This will be the third flight for this Falcon 9’s first stage booster, which previously supported the launch of Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich and a Starlink mission. Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage will land on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship, which will be located in the Pacific Ocean”, said SpaceX.
DART is humanity’s first planetary defense test mission to see if intentionally crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid is an effective way to change its course, should an Earth-threatening asteroid be discovered in the future.
DART is aiming for the moonlet, which is about as big as a football stadium. It’s set to reach its target, 6.8 million miles from Earth, in September 2022.
“We’re going to hit it hard, but we’re hitting it with a very small vehicle,” Ed Reynolds, the DART project manager at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, said in a press conference on Monday.