NASA selected Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory to build and operate spacecraft in support of the agency's planetary defense goals.
The Double Asteroid Redirection Test spacecraft is scheduled to launch aboard a Falcon 9 rocket in June 2021 on a mission to intercept the Didymos asteroid through a kinetic impaction method, APL said Friday.
SpaceX will provide the launch services under a potential $69M contract announced Friday.
The laboratory will manage DART for the Planetary Missions Program office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center with assistance from Johnson Space Center, Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Goddard Space Flight Center.
“The DART team is eager to move ahead with our spacecraft and mission designs and demonstrate, for the first time in space, a method to keep potentially hazardous bodies from reaching Earth," said Elena Adams, a mission systems engineer at APL.