Humanity made history this week after the successful demonstration of the world’s first planetary defence technology. Final images from NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) are akin to a fantastical science-fiction movie with a weapon designed to stave off threats from space debris, but here we are having achieved what was thought to be impossible. Advances like these are imperative not only for securing mankind’s survival but for understanding space.

DART spent 10 months in space while trying to approach its target Dimorphos and, on its first try, it made an impact at 7:14 p.m. EDT. The asteroid did not pose a threat to the Earth’s survival but merely served the purpose of a test target to determine whether asteroids can be deflected through impact, should such a threat ever concern us in the future. Four years will be spent trying to determine the efficacy of this mechanism as scientists observe the change in the orbit and the size of the impact caused.

Outside of the semantics of the process, the operation is a hallmark achievement that has not only served as a demonstration of global unity but has produced a successful mitigation technique for protecting the planet from such disasters in the future. The precision, expertise, thought and passion that went into the project is commendable and the hope is that continuous progress is achieved with the same fervour.

Space has always been an attractive frontier for humanity, exemplifying our desire to learn, produce and innovate as a result. Throughout history, successful missions—be it the first moon landing, constructing the International Space Station, sending a rover to mars or making a successful orbit around faraway planets like Pluto—have been hailed as landmark achievements and have been subjects of fascination. Space exploration and development in the field have been a major part of wars even, proving that the capabilities we develop in this field are monumental for our progress and should continue in the future.