Launch Coverage

    DART Launch Successful; On Orbit Anomaly Ends Mission Early
    Pegasus rocket launch
    Image above: The launch of the Pegasus rocket from the L-1011 aircraft. Image Credit: NASA

    Launch Date: April 15, 2005
    Launch Time: 10:25 a.m. PDT

    Launch Success
    The Demonstration of Autonomous Rendezvous Technology (DART) spacecraft was successfully launched Friday, April 15 but experienced an on-orbit anomaly placing itself in the retirement phase before completing all planned proximity operations, ending the mission prematurely.

    Launch Control Center
    + Launch Coverage
    + Launch Team

    Additional information
    + Spacecraft Processing
    + Launch Pad Processing
    + DART web broadcast

    The Rocket
    DART's transportation into orbit was provided by a Pegasus XL rocket. Built by Orbital Sciences, the Pegasus is a unique rocket that begins its flight fastened to the underbelly of an L-1011 passenger jet. Once the L-1011 reaches an altitude of 39,000 feet, the Pegasus is released for its 10-minute powered flight into space.

    The Mission
    DART was an experiment designed to test a vehicle's ability to guide itself to a rendezvous with another spacecraft. Measuring only 6 feet long and 3 feet in diameter, DART attempted to perform a series of maneuvers around the MUBLCOM satellite, launched in 1999. The entire mission was scheduled to last a brief 24 hours and perform without any human control.

    Additional links:
    + Watch a Launch
    + Launch Locations

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