DART Asteroid Deflection Launch Date Pushed to Secondary Window
Last week, NASA announced they will be pushing the launch date for the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) from summer 2021 to the secondary launch window of November 24, 2021 to February 15, 2022. Even though the launch was pushed, this does not change the planned arrival window at the asteroid, which is still planned for the end of September 2022.
The DART mission is an extremely important one for the field of planetary defense and it will be a milestone for humanity. It will send a spacecraft to crash into the secondary body of the binary asteroid 65803 Didymos in order to demonstrate the kinetic impact technique for changing the trajectory of a near-Earth asteroid.
This is a crucial step on the path to knowing mission parameters for future kinetic impactor deflection missions. All of us at B612 and the Asteroid Institute are looking forward to tracking DART’s progress this year as we move forward toward the launch window this fall. ESA’s planned Hera Mission will arrive about three years later, to characterise Didymoon in great detail. In particular, it will perform detailed measurements of the physical properties of the body, as well as its orbit, to characterise the consequences of DART’s kinetic impact. You can read more about the DART mission and reasons for pushing the launch date here or here.