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For release: 10-27-04
Release #: H04-362  

DART launch postponed

Photo description: In this artist's conception, the DART flight demonstrator, top left, rendezvous with the MUBLCOM satellite, bottom right, in orbit.

Thursday's launch of the Demonstration of Autonomous Rendezvous Technology (DART) spacecraft was postponed after the discovery of pieces of particulate contamination inside the fairing of the Pegasus launch vehicle. The NASA and Orbital Sciences Corp. launch team does not expect to launch before Nov. 4.


NASA and Orbital Sciences Corp. have postponed today's launch of the Demonstration of Autonomous Rendezvous Technology (DART) spacecraft due to the discovery of particulate contamination found inside the fairing of the Pegasus launch vehicle. The launch team does not expect to launch before Nov. 4, 2004.

During the final flight preparations for the DART/Pegasus launch, closeout team members discovered pieces of aluminum foil from the launch vehicle's fairing. As a result, the vehicle will be de-mated from the carrier aircraft and returned to the vehicle assembly building, where it will be inspected.

The DART mission was postponed twice this week. The first postponement was due to a dropout of Global Positioning Satellite data of the target vehicle, which was resolved.

DART is a flight demonstrator that provides a key step in establishing autonomous rendezvous capabilities for the U.S. space program and the Vision for Space Exploration. While astronauts have piloted previous rendezvous and docking efforts, the unmanned DART spacecraft will have only computers and sensors to perform all of its rendezvous functions.

Future applications of technologies developed by the DART project will benefit the nation in future space systems development requiring in-space assembly, services, or other autonomous rendezvous operations.

For more information about DART visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/

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