| ||DART Launch Successful; On Orbit Anomaly Ends Mission Early |
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
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.
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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.
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.
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