Mon, Apr 17, 2006
Will Only Release Summary Of Findings
NASA announced last
week it will only release a summary of its report outlining when
and why things went wrong with a failed orbital rendezvous of two
spacecraft last year, saying the information contained in the full
report is too sensitive for public release.
That summary is expected to shed some -- but maybe not all --
light on why the Demonstration for Autonomous Rendezvous
Technology, or DART, spacecraft failed in its automated rendezvous
with an orbiting Pentagon satellite last April.
As was reported last year in
Aero-News, scientists lost contact with the DART about
halfway into the spacecraft's 24-hour mission to rendezvous with
the satellite, and failed to complete several automated tasks
including flying a close approach to the Pentagon satellite.
NASA initially said DART suffered from a fuel problem, although
no leak was detected. The probe also detected errors with its
onboard navigational systems.
Had the $110 million DART project been successful, it would have
been the first completely autonomous rendezvous and docking between
spacecraft -- a mission scientists hoped would pave the way for
robots being able to perform more tasks once thought to be possible
only with human oversight.
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