At 7:14pm today Eastern NASA is expected to make its first move in a DART game expected to last 46 years according to the most recent trajectory estimations. It’s the first DART throw in a close match played across all of the major space programs across the world and NASA gets to go first because it was the first to secure the funding. The stakes couldn’t be higher as the first move of any DART game sets the tone for any serious competitive match. There’s a lot riding on the match as the winner will have bragging rights for decades and the loser has to buy everyone’s drinks at the 2070 conference in Orlando.
The rules are quite simple, lob a satellite at the moonlet Dimorphos orbiting the asteroid Didymos at 14,000 miles per hour and aim for a high scoring part of Dimorphos clock style board! After designating the Eastern Hemisphere of Dimorphos into a standard Trebles board 500m in diameter, NASA has been bold enough to aim for a double twenty score. While their navigation computers were able to achieve triple 20s in 73% of the trajectory simulations, they determined the risk of missing would be too great.
Many of the astronautical engineers are concerned that the NASA team is attempting to slam into Dimorphos so fast that it knocks it into a different orbit. By changing the trajectory, all the previously launched shots will likely be off by a wide margin by the time they make it to the far off rock. In response to the theory NASA is trying to lock down an early win, lead NASA engineer David Liebensworth commented “Sucks to Suck.”
“We’re aiming for a bull’s eye!” Russian space agency engineer Ivan Ivanovitch reported. “Americans cheat, they launched their vehicle when we were 3 million miles away from Dimorphos and we agreed a standoff distance of 6 million miles minimum for a legal shot. They can’t knock it that far off of orbit, with consistent bull’s eyes, we’ll catch up eventually. For every one NASA rocket, there will be a dozen Soviet, I mean Russian Federation rockets!”
The world will be watching tonight as NASA makes the first move which may or may not secure bragging rights and free beers at Orlando.
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