NASA Releases DART Accident Report Summary

May 16, 2006
DART flight demonstrator, top left, rendezvous with the MUBLCOM satellite, bottom right, in orbit

NASA released a summary Monday 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.

Because the official mishap investigation board report contains information protected by U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations, it will not be publicly released. Instead, NASA has prepared a summary of the report, which omits the protected information. The summary is available at:

This NASA craft was a low-cost, high-risk technology demonstrator, designed to establish autonomous rendezvous capabilities and proximity operations for the U.S. space program. It was successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on April 15, 2005.

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.

The spacecraft and the Pegasus launch vehicle were developed by Orbital Sciences Corp., Dulles, Va. NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate funded the project.

The mishap investigation report was the result of an investigation by an eight-member board established by NASA on April 21, 2005. The summary of the report was produced by the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate.

Source: NASA

Explore further: Cameras delivered for OSIRIS-REx mission as launch prep continues

Related Stories

Rosetta takes a glance at Pluto

July 15, 2015

On Sunday, 12 July 2015, OSIRIS, the scientific imaging system on board ESA's spacecraft Rosetta, took a glance towards the rim of our Solar System. Instead of studying comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as in the past 15 months, ...

Naming features on Pluto

July 14, 2015

'Here be Dragons…' read the inscriptions of old maps used by early seafaring explorers. Such maps were crude, and often wildly inaccurate.

Second instrument delivered for OSIRIS-REx mission

July 9, 2015

An instrument that will explore the surface of a primitive asteroid in search of water and organic materials has arrived at Lockheed Martin for installation onto NASA's Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification ...

Heliophysicist waits nearly 10 years for Pluto flyby

July 8, 2015

When NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto flies past the distant, icy world on July 14, NASA heliophysicist Nikolaos Paschalidis will be one happy man: he created a mission-enabling technology that will help uncover details ...

Recommended for you

What are white holes?

October 9, 2015

Black holes are created when stars die catastrophically in a supernova. So what in the universe is a white hole?

How to prepare for Mars? NASA consults Navy sub force

October 5, 2015

As NASA contemplates a manned voyage to Mars and the effects missions deeper into space could have on astronauts, it's tapping research from another outfit with experience sending people to the deep: the U.S. Navy submarine ...

A mission to a metal world—The Psyche mission

October 9, 2015

In their drive to set exploration goals for the future, NASA's Discovery Program put out the call for proposals for their thirteenth Discovery mission in February 2014. After reviewing the 27 initial proposals, a panel of ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.