VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE – A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is set to launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base next week. It will be carrying a groundbreaking technology from NASA.
The rocket will launch from Space Launch Complex-4 on Tuesday around 10:20 p.m.
The Falcon 9 will be carrying NASA's first planetary defense test mission called the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART).
The spacecraft is designed to smash directly into an asteroid at a speed of about 15,000 mph.
The DART system is set to impact an asteroid called Dimorphos in 2022. That asteroid orbits a larger asteroid known as Didymos. The hope is that the impact will change the orbit of Dimorphos, possibly altering the path of the asteroid. NASA is testing to see if the spacecraft could divert a possible asteroid collision with Earth.
This particular asteroid system was chosen because it poses no threat to the Earth, Vandenberg said.
“Space Launch Delta 30 is excited to partner with NASA and SpaceX on the first planetary defense test mission,” said Col. Rob Long. “Everyone involved has been working tirelessly to ensure this launch is safe and successful. I’m proud of their efforts.”
Long is Space Launch Delta 30 commander and will be the launch authority for Tuesday's launch.
The Hawk's Nest public viewing site will be closed for a private event during the launch, VASB said.