Press Release

DART Spacecraft Outfitted with Next-Gen Technology Demonstration Propulsion System

Tue, 11/24/2020 - 15:11

Currently coming together in a clean room at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft will be outfitted with several new technologies. These technologies will be demonstrated on DART’s journey toward its asteroid target Dimorphos that is part of the Didymos binary asteroid system.

Earlier this month, the APL team working on the DART spacecraft installed one of those technologies: NASA’s NEXT-C (NASA’s Evolutionary Xenon Thruster-Commercial) ion propulsion system. Set for launch next summer, the DART spacecraft will be the first demonstration of a kinetic impactor — a spacecraft deliberately targeted to strike an asteroid at high speed in order to change the asteroid’s motion in space. The DART mission was designed to demonstrate this critical planetary defense capability.