NASA, SpaceX Launch Asteroid Intercept Mission From Vandenberg

NASA and SpaceX successfully launched a test mission to intercept an astroid last night out of Vandenberg Air Force Base, north of Santa Barbara. The launch–which was visible up and down the California coast around 10:25pm–will test a known asteroid to see how it can change that asteroid’s course. The “Planetary Protection” mission launched a spacecraft–the DART–built and managed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland. NASA said the mission will show that a spacecraft can autonomously navigate to a target asteroid and intentionally collide with it.