The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) experiment lifted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in the US yesterday.
Avenge the dinosaurs!! https://t.co/knL2pFLGzF
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 25, 2021
Within minutes, Musk’s tweet was inundated with over 28,000 likes and more than 3,000 comments with users rushing in to share memes, GIFs, cryptocurrency-based ideas and much more.
A spacecraft that must ultimately crash to succeed was launched late on Tuesday from California on a NASA mission to demonstrate the world’s first planetary defense system, designed to deflect an asteroid from a potential doomsday collision with Earth.
The DART payload, about the size of a vending machine, was released from the booster a few minutes after launch to begin a 10-month journey into space, some 6.8 million miles (11 million km) from Earth.
Moments later the rocket’s reusable lower stage flew back to Earth and safely touched down on a landing vessel floating in the Pacific in what has become a routine part of the cost-cutting launch sequence pioneered by SpaceX.
DART will fly under the guidance of NASA’s flight directors until the last hours of its odyssey, when control will be handed over to an autonomous on-board navigation system.
The mission’s finale will test spacecraft’s ability to alter an asteroid’s trajectory with sheer kinetic force, plowing into it at high speed to nudge the space boulder off course just enough to keep our planet out of harm’s way.
DART’s target is an asteroid “moonlet” the size of a football stadium that orbits a chunk of rock five times larger in a binary asteroid system named Didymos, the Greek word for twin.
Separately, Musk sold about $1.05 billion in stock on Wednesday, November 24. The sales were scheduled in September to exercise options that were set to expire in 2022.
Musk has sold a total of $9.85 billion in Tesla stock this month, including the $6.9 billion he sold the week of November 10 and another $1.9 billion he sold on Novemer 15 and November 16.
Some of the shares were sold in part to satisfy tax obligations related to an exercise of stock options. Musk and his trust still hold more than 169 million shares in the company.