Local Space Expert Shares Importance of NASA's DART Mission

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NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test – or DART – slammed into an asteroid Monday to prove that humans can, in fact, protect the Earth from a future collision.

Ken Ruffin, a local aerospace enthusiast and expert, broke down what this means for years to come. Ruffin, president of the National Space Society of North Texas, has been anticipating this moment since he was 8 years old.

“This is Earth’s first planetary defense mission that I’ve waited for since a very long time ago,” said Ruffin.

On Monday evening, millions of miles off the surface of Earth, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test was a success. The spacecraft intentionally and successfully slammed into an asteroid.

Whether you call it a major collision or a slight jab depends on perspective.

“From the asteroid’s perspective, it’s just a little nudge because it’s a little spacecraft. Maybe the size of a golf cart compared to like the great pyramid of Egypt,” Ruffin said.

Either way, what just happened in space makes a world of difference.

“If we find out there’s an asteroid on its way to Earth, on a collision course with Earth, we have data, we will evidence of what we could do to hopefully keep such an asteroid from hitting the Earth,” said Ruffin.

A spacecraft named DART crashed into an asteroid Monday to learn how to divert potentially deadly celestial bodies.

Astronomers were tasked with identifying near-Earth asteroids more than a football field in length, and Ruffin said, so far, they’ve found some 30,000.

“However, astronomers believe that the total population of near-Earth asteroids is around one million,” he said. “So, if you do the math, 30,000 divided by 1 million, that’s 3%.”

Still, this is a big deal, and he hopes the historic mission encourages a new generation of space exploration; an exploration that may not mirror movies like Armageddon but are no less exciting.

“Were they SciFi movies? Absolutely. But is the risk of an asteroid impact real? Absolutely,” he said. “NASA has taken efforts to protect humanity, to protect the world.”

For more information on the National Space Society of North Texas visit

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