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: http://www.nasa.gov/dart

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: Renowned scientist who helped lead mission to Jupiter dies

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

Binary star system precisely timed with pulsar's gamma-rays

July 31, 2015

Pulsars are rapidly rotating compact remnants born in the explosions of massive stars. They can be observed through their lighthouse-like beams of radio waves and gamma-rays. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational ...

Image: Hubble sees a dying star's final moments

July 31, 2015

A dying star's final moments are captured in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The death throes of this star may only last mere moments on a cosmological timescale, but this star's demise is still quite ...

Exoplanets 20/20: Looking back to the future

July 31, 2015

Geoff Marcy remembers the hair standing up on the back of his neck. Paul Butler remembers being dead tired. The two men had just made history: the first confirmation of a planet orbiting another star.

Earth flyby of 'space peanut' captured in new video

July 31, 2015

NASA scientists have used two giant, Earth-based radio telescopes to bounce radar signals off a passing asteroid and produce images of the peanut-shaped body as it approached close to Earth this past weekend.

0 comments

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.