'Armageddon' star Bruce Willis trends on social media after NASA's DART launch

SpaceX crashes NASA spacecraft into asteroid approaching Earth

SpaceX crashes NASA spacecraft into asteroid approaching Earth

Actor Bruce Willis briefly trended on Twitter Wednesday following the successful launch of NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), the world's first full-scale planetary defense system.  

Photos courtesy of NASA, Mike Marsland/WireImage via Getty Images (Getty Images)

According to a tweet by Washington Post reporter Christian Davenport on Tuesday, NASA administrator Bill Nelson had invited Willis to the launch because of his role in the film "Armageddon." Though Willis declined, Nelson told the outlet that the agency "did not want to miss that connection." 

A spokesperson for Willis did not immediately return FOX Business' request for comment. 

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Despite Willis' absence, one user noted on Twitter how the mission was "making sci-fi a reality," while others saw the news as an opportunity to joke about his participation.

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The DART mission lifted off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4 East at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California at 1:21 a.m Eastern time Wednesday. 

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 4 at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on Nov. 23, 2021, carrying NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Mission spacecraft. 

The spacecraft, which is managed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, is on its way to intercept Dimorphos, a moonlet spanning 530 feet in diameter located in the Didymos asteroid system. The Didymos asteroid is approximately 2,560 feet in diameter. 

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According to NASA, the goal of the mission is to slightly change the asteroid’s motion in a way that can be accurately measured using ground-based telescopes. 

"DART is turning science fiction into science fact and is a testament to NASA’s proactivity and innovation for the benefit of all," Nelson said in a statement. "In addition to all the ways NASA studies our universe and our home planet, we’re also working to protect that home, and this test will help prove out one viable way to protect our planet from a hazardous asteroid should one ever be discovered that is headed toward Earth.

Prior to DART's impact, a cube satellite from the Italian Space Agency will be released to capture images of the collision. Roughly four years after DART’s impact, the European Space Agency's Hera project will conduct detailed surveys of both asteroids, with particular focus on the crater left by DART’s collision.

DART, which is expected to intercept the Didymos system between Sept. 26 and Oct. 1, 2022, will continue to travel just outside of Earth’s orbit around the Sun for the next 10 months until Didymos and Dimorphos are 6.8 million miles away from Earth. Scientists estimate the kinetic impact will shorten Dimorphos’ orbit around Didymos by several minutes.

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