NASA grants Elon Musk's SpaceX $69 million to fly spacecraft into asteroid
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Elon MuskElon Reeve MuskHillicon Valley: GOP senator wants one agency to run tech probes | Huawei expects to lose B in sales from US ban | Self-driving car bill faces tough road ahead | Elon Musk tweets that he 'deleted' his Twitter account Hillicon Valley: GOP senator wants one agency to run tech probes | Huawei expects to lose B in sales from US ban | Self-driving car bill faces tough road ahead | Elon Musk tweets that he 'deleted' his Twitter account On The Money: Democrats move funding bills as budget caps deal remains elusive | Companies line up to weigh in on 0B China tariffs | Trudeau to talk trade with Pelosi, McConnell MORE's SpaceX has been awarded a $69 million contract for a mission that will include flying a spacecraft into an asteroid.

NASA last week awarded the contract to SpaceX, selecting the company to provide services for NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission, NASA said in a statement.

The current target date for the mission is June 2021, and NASA plans to use one of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets, the agency said.

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With the mission, NASA will look to "demonstrate a kinetic impact" by deliberately flying a spacecraft into a small asteroid, according to a description of the project on NASA's website.

"The DART spacecraft will achieve the kinetic impact by deliberately crashing itself into the moonlet at a speed of approximately 6 km/s, with the aid of an onboard camera and sophisticated autonomous navigation software," the website reads.

"The collision will change the speed of the moonlet in its orbit around the main body by a fraction of one percent, enough to be measured using telescopes on Earth."

SpaceX, which was founded by Musk in 2002, currently has multiple multi-billion dollar deals with NASA to deliver cargo, and eventually astronauts, to the International Space Station. The company, which is valued at over $30 billion, laid off 10 percent of its workforce earlier this year as it moved to pursue more ambitious projects.

 

CEO Musk has also been embroiled in scandal with his other company, Tesla, after tweets deemed to be inaccurate by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC asked a judge in February to hold Musk in contempt for allegedly violating an agreement with the agency. Musk appeared at a hearing earlier this month, during which a judge asked Musk and the SEC to rework the language of their agreement.

 

Musk's settlement the agency last year over fraud charges, that involved him stepping down as chairman of Tesla.