Washington D.C., United States—NASA has just approved the first anti-asteroid mission for planetary defence.

The asteroid deflection technology is now undergoing the final design and assembly phases. It is expected to be operational in the near future.

Designed, built, and operated by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) purposes to test the “kinetic impactor technique.” This technique is designed to strike an incoming asteroid and shift its orbit, saving Earth from a catastrophic impact.

For its culmination test, DART will target Didymos, a binary asteroid system that comprised of Didymos A (about 1.5 miles wide) and Didymos B (about 500 feet wide). The test is scheduled for the middle of 2021.  The proposed plan will see DART flying to Didymos and the using its onboard targeting system—a space gun—to redirect Didymos B.