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MISSION NEWS
DART Spacecraft Processing Activities

04.07.05

7 April 2005
In the Orbital Sciences Corporation hangar at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, DART has been re-mated to the Pegasus launch vehicle and fairing reinstallation will be completed today.

Flight Simulation 4A was completed on April 1 as scheduled with a nominal outcome. The Flight Readiness Review will occur later this week. The Launch Readiness Review, the final review to be held, is set to occur one day before launch.

16 February 2005
A preliminary review has been completed on the loads imparted by the Pegasus launch vehicle on the DART spacecraft. Additional testing has been performed to ensure that the flight hardware on DART can withstand the change in vehicle loads. The final assessment of the loads analysis is scheduled to be completed later this month.

9 February 2005
A preliminary review has been performed on the loads imparted by the Pegasus launch vehicle on the DART spacecraft. There has also been additional testing to ensure that the flight hardware on DART can withstand the change in vehicle loads. The final loads analysis is scheduled to be complete late this month.

26 January 2005
On Tuesday, DART was removed from the Pegasus to obtain access to the rocket's gaseous nitrogen regulator. The spacecraft has been rotated to a vertical position, moved to a clean room and placed on a test stand.

19 January 2005
Though the payload fairing was removed, the DART spacecraft has remained mated to the Pegasus XL launch vehicle since the stand-down. The fairing is scheduled to be enclosed around DART once again on Feb. 23-24. The Pegasus XL is scheduled to be mated to the Orbital Sciences L-1011 carrier aircraft on Feb. 26.

24 November 2004
The review of projected loads data, or the G-forces that the DART payload will experience upon ignition of the Pegasus second stage, continue to be reevaluated to assure mission success. However, the final launch date will depend on availability of the Western Range, the P-3 tracking aircraft, and the McMurdo Tracking Station in Antarctica.

10 November 2004
The Pegasus rocket is being demated today, Nov. 10, from the L-1011 carrier aircraft and returned to its hangar for the present time. A new launch date will be determined once the loads analysis concern has been resolved.

21 October 2004
The DART satellite and Pegasus XL launch vehicle were successfully re-mated on Oct. 1, followed by successful final testing of the Advanced Video Guidance Sensor hardware, the primary technology demonstration experiment. The final Pegasus/DART launch and mission simulation was successfully performed on Oct. 8. Installation of the dual fairing halves around the spacecraft atop the Pegasus rocket was completed Oct. 15.

13 October 2004
Final testing of the Advanced Video Guidance Sensor hardware, the primary technology demonstration experiment, has been successfully completed. The final Pegasus/DART launch and mission simulation was successfully completed on Oct. 8.

7 October 2004
Final testing of the Advanced Video Guidance Sensor hardware, the primary technology demonstration experiment, has been successfully completed. The final Pegasus/DART launch and mission simulation is under way today.

30 September 2004
Installation into the satellite of the Advanced Video Guidance Sensor hardware, the primary technology demonstration experiment, was completed Sept. 15 after arriving at Vandenberg Sept. 12.

22 September 2004
The upper stage that will provide maneuvering for the spacecraft during mission operations for DART was demated from the third stage this week to inspect its pressure transducer and associated electrical harness. Installation of the Advanced Video Guidance Sensor (AVGS) hardware, the primary technology demonstration experiment, was completed into the satellite Sept. 15 after arriving at Vandenberg Sept. 12. The optical characterization testing and final performance verification test will be conducted later this month.

DART was designed and built for NASA by Orbital Sciences Corporation as an advanced flight demonstrator to locate and maneuver near an orbiting satellite. The DART spacecraft weighs about 800 pounds and is nearly 6 feet long and 3 feet in diameter. The Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL vehicle will launch DART into a circular polar orbit of approximately 475 miles.

The DART satellite provides a key step in establishing autonomous rendezvous capabilities for the U.S. Space Program. While previous rendezvous and docking efforts have been piloted by astronauts, the unmanned DART satellite will have computers and cameras to perform its rendezvous functions.

Once in orbit, DART will make contact with a target satellite, the Multiple Paths, Beyond-Line-of-Site Communications (MUBLCOM), also built by Orbital Sciences and launched in 1999. DART will then perform several close-proximity operations, such as moving toward and away from the satellite using navigation data provided by on-board sensors. The entire mission will last only 24 hours and will be accomplished without human intervention. The DART flight computer will determine its own path to accomplish its mission objectives.


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