LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) – A spacecraft that must ultimately crash to succeed was launched late on Tuesday (Nov 24) from California on a NASA mission to demonstrate the world’s first planetary defence system, designed to deflect an asteroid from a potential doomsday collision with Earth.

The so-called DART spacecraft soared into the night sky at 10.21pm Pacific time on Tuesday from the Vandenberg US Space Force Base, about 240km northwest of Los Angeles, carried aboard a SpaceX-owned Falcon 9 rocket.

The blast-off was shown live on NASA TV.