NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission is set to launch tonight on top of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The launch will take place from Vandenberg Space Force Base, just north of Los Angeles. Here is how to watch DART’s launch.
NASA‘s DART mission will liftoff from Vandenberg at 1:21 a.m. EST on November 24 (10:21 p.m. PST on November 23). This late-night launch should be seen across Southern California, giving the area a rare pre-thanksgiving performance. West coast launches have become rarer lately, but with the packed launch schedule in Florida, interplanetary missions have gotten creative to use Vandenberg.
On top of the rocket is DART, a kinetic impactor designed to test if slamming a heavy mass into an asteroid can change its orbit. In theory, it should, but nothing beats real-world testing. NASA is doing this to ensure that if an asteroid threatens Earth, we will know how to divert it away.
How to watch NASA’s DART launch
If you do not live in Southern California, you will miss out on the spectacle of the launch, but no worries because NASA and SpaceX will be live streaming it. There are no full details on how the joint coverage will be handled, but NASA and SpaceX usually join up to produce a single live stream that airs on both NASA TV and SpaceX’s YouTube channel.
NASA’s coverage begins at 12:00 p.m. EST with special live shows playing on NASA TV about DART. Launch coverage will begin at 12:30 a.m. EST, which is when SpaceX’s coverage will most likely start as well.
Watching DART launch in person
Vandenberg launches are tricky since the base doesn’t offer public viewing tickets, like Kennedy Space Center, and is surrounded by mountains. However, there are some public locations available that you can find on this guide. If you are watching from anywhere south of Vandenberg Space Force Base, you should see it streaking overhead, weather permitting.