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NASA launches spacecraft to crash into asteroid next September

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LOS ANGELES - NASA launched a spacecraft Tuesday night on a mission to smash into an asteroid and test whether it would be possible to knock a speeding space rock off course if one were to threaten Earth.The DART spacecraft, short for Double Asteroid Redirection Test, lifted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in a $330 million project with echoes of the Bruce Willis movie "Armageddon."If all goes well, the boxy, 1,200-pound (540-kilogram) craft will slam head-on into Dimorphos, an asteroid 525 feet (160 meters) across, at 15,000 mph (24,139 kph) next September.RELATED: WATCH: NASA launches planetary-defense mission from California's Vandenberg Space Force Base"This isn’t going to destroy the asteroid.

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