Sat, Apr 16, 2005
The Demonstration of Autonomous Rendezvous Technology (DART)
spacecraft that was successfully launched Friday at 10:25 a.m. PDT
from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., experienced an on orbit
anomaly late Friday.
After a successful rendezvous, acquisition of the target
spacecraft, and approach to within approximately 300 feet, DART
placed itself in the retirement phase before completing all planned
proximity operations, ending the mission prematurely.
NASA is convening a mishap investigation board to determine the
reason for the DART spacecraft anomaly.
The DART spacecraft was a flight experiment attempting to
establish autonomous rendezvous capabilities for the U.S. space
program. While previous rendezvous and docking efforts have been
piloted by astronauts, the DART spacecraft completed the rendezvous
and acquisition with no human intervention, relying on a variety of
sensors and analyses to complete these functions.
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