The successful collision of a NASA spacecraft with an asteroid lifted space sector stocks before market open Tuesday.
The vending-machine sized spacecraft successfully collided with asteroid Dimorphos at 7:14 pm ET Monday. The asteroid moonlet is just 530 feet in diameter, orbiting a much larger 2,650-foot diameter asteroid named Didymos. Launched in November 2021 atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test marks NASA’s first attempt to move an asteroid in space. Neither Dimorphos nor Didymos poses a threat to Earth, according to NASA.
Space stocks are basking in the warm afterglow of the mission on Tuesday.
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Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc.
is up 2.5% before market open, while rocket specialists Rocket Lab USA Inc.
and Aerojet RocketDyne Holdings Inc.
are up 3.8% and 2.5%, respectively. Momentus Inc.
which provides satellite transportation and servicing, is up 2.8%, while defense and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin Corp.
is up 1.8%.
Shares of satellite company Maxar Technologies Inc.
which ended Monday’s session down 4.3%, are up 2.7% in premarket trading.
“The mission’s one-way trip confirmed NASA can successfully navigate a spacecraft to intentionally collide with an asteroid to deflect it, a technique known as kinetic impact,” said NASA, in a statement. Investigators will now use ground-based telescopes to confirm that DART’s impact altered Dimorphos’ orbit around Didymos. “Researchers expect the impact to shorten Dimorphos’ orbit by about 1%, or roughly 10 minutes; precisely measuring how much the asteroid was deflected is one of the primary purposes of the full-scale test.”
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NASA’s DART mission is built and managed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.
“Why are we doing this? This technique could be used to deflect an Earth-threatening asteroid, should one ever be discovered,” tweeted NASA Adminstrator Bill Nelson, on Monday.
“This one is for the dinosaurs,” quipped the @DARTprobe Twitter account.