NASA Dart mission with Italian LiciaCube microsatellite took off

Parmitano: “For Dart and LiciaCube a long journey of 11 million km to reach the asteroid”

NASA’s Dart mission took off with the Italian microsatellite LiciaCube on board. The launch is made with a SpaceX Falcon 9 launcher, a partially reusable two-stage rocket that is powered by nine SpaceX Merlin engines. Its first stage uses rocket kerosene and liquid oxygen, while the second stage uses liquid oxygen. The first stage separates and re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere, landing vertically. The Falcon 9 has four hypersonic grid fins at the base of its interstage to orient the rocket during reentry. For this launch, the first stage lands on SpaceX’s drone ship ‘Of Course I Still Love You’, which will be located in the Pacific Ocean. “It has an iconic name” commented the president of ASI, Giorgio Saccoccia, during the live link from the ASI headquarters.

“The launch operation is not yet completed but the mission is extraordinary, for Dart and LiciaCube there is a long journey in space of 11 million kilometers and which will last 11 months” underlined the Italian ESA astronaut, Luca Parmitano, during the live event organized at the headquarters of the Italian Space Agency, in Rome.