SpaceX has been awarded a contract by NASA in a first-ever mission to demonstrate the capability of deflecting an asteroid by colliding a spacecraft with it at high speed.

The technique is known as kinetic impactor and the contract is for about $69 million, which includes the launch service and other mission-related costs.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) launch is currently targeted for launch in June of 2021 on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

DART will intercept the asteroid Didymos’ small moon in October of 2022, when the asteroid will be within 11 million kilometers from Earth.

To contact the author of this article, email engineering360editors@globalspec.com