Asteroid Defense Test

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, spacecraft onboard, is seen ready for launch on Tuesday at Space Launch Complex 4E, Vandenberg Space Force Base in Calif. DART is the world's first full-scale planetary defense test, demonstrating one method of asteroid deflection technology. (Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP)

LOS ANGELES — NASA launched a spacecraft Tuesday night on a mission to smash into an asteroid and test whether it would be possible to knock a speeding space rock off course if one were to threaten Earth.

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