Elon Musk's SpaceX was awarded the contract to launch a future NASA mission designed to intercept an asteroid and deflect it away from the Earth to avoid a potentially catastrophic impact.
NASA confirmed SpaceX will provide launch services for the June 2021 Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission via one of its Falcon 9 rockets.
The mission is expected to cost $69 million.
The DART will use a technique called a kinetic impactor to intercept the small moon of the asteroid Didymos in October 2022. At that point, scientists estimate the asteroid will be within 11 million kilometers of Earth. The unmanned spacecraft will launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
According to NASA, the Didymos asteroid is 800 meters in diameter and its moon is 150 meters in diameter. It orbits the Sun once every 2.11 Earth years.
The space agency predicts the "impact event" will occur Oct. 7, 2022.