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Summaryof DART Accident Report


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Summaryof DART Accident Report

NASA released a summary on May 15, 2006, of the findings about why its Demonstration of Autonomous Rendezvous Technology spacecraft did not complete its mission and collided with the intended rendezvous satellite on April 15, 2005.

+ Read the Summary (87 Kb PDF)

The spacecraft was to autonomously rendezvous with and perform a series of maneuvers in close proximity to a communications satellite no longer in use. The NASA spacecraft performed nominally during the first eight hours of the mission ― launch, checkout, and rendezvous phases. It accomplished all objectives up to that point, though ground operations personnel noticed some anomalies with the craft's navigation system.

During proximity operations, the spacecraft began using more propellant than expected. Approximately 11 hours into the mission, the craft detected its propellant supply was depleted and began a series of maneuvers for departure and retirement. Although not known at the time, it made contact with and boosted the rendezvous satellite's orbit 1.2 nautical miles higher. The rendezvous satellite was not damaged.

Both satellites are in low-Earth orbits that will not be a hazard to other spacecraft. They will eventually burn up upon re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.

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