At 1.13am PST, astronauts aboard the International Space Station overheard the successful launch of a spacecraft that will crash into a near-Earth asteroid in August of next year, The Guardian reported.
The so-called Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) is intended to send a robotic spacecraft to an asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and grab as much material as possible. An “asteroid harpoon” will then attempt to grab the asteroid and bring it in line with Earth. The goal is to extract as much material as possible to use for use on Earth.
The launch was a success.
“This was my first taste of the exciting launch cadence of a space mission,” David Williams, deputy director of the Deep Space Network at Goldstone, California, which monitored the launch, said. “It was truly a day we’ll never forget.”
Courtesy of NASA
According to NASA, the launch did not carry any heavy payloads. Instead, ARM carried a ceramic tile used in the Apollo moon landings, a payload made by a local third-grade science class in Amarillo, Texas, and a small inventory of supplies needed for the mission.
“The legacy of the moon program has been and is building the Space Station, which is now in orbit and will soon turn full rotation,” NASA stated. “ARM is helping to get our hand on the other hand, and establishing a path forward for more robotic and manned deep space exploration, including how to deal with the near-Earth asteroids.”
ARM is NASA’s second moon-landing commemorative mission. In 2013, the Crew Dragon spacecraft launched to rendezvous with the space station and dock with it. Its first mission is scheduled for March 2019.
In addition to the launch, ARM took a selfie.
Here’s the first look at the gold and orange ARM capsule, hatch and ‘memento’ capsule. Used as a the blank canvas for today’s image experiment, astronauts caught some stellar views. Image: https://t.co/T2bKgGsHnW #RendezvousSoIntoYou pic.twitter.com/9o7JiSRShk — NASA (@NASA) June 24, 2018
Our launch window is around Earth Time. That’s 12:12 UTC (2:12:12 UTC – just over 3:12 am PDT) if the sun is going down, or 1:12:40 UTC if the moon is light. pic.twitter.com/m67mZRSbEv — NASA’s Deep Space Network (@NASA_DSN) June 24, 2018