NASA Sets New DART Launch Date

Press Release From: NASA HQ
Posted: Wednesday, October 27, 2004

NASA announced Thursday is the next launch attempt for the Demonstration of Autonomous Rendezvous Technology (DART) spacecraft. The launch window opens at 2:16:13 p.m. EDT and closes at 2:21:57 p.m. EDT.

The launch is from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. aboard an Orbital Sciences Corp. Pegasus XL vehicle. The target drop time of the Pegasus from the carrier aircraft is 2:18 p.m. EDT.

The DART spacecraft will be launched on the Pegasus vehicle from its Stargazer L-1011 jet aircraft. At approximately 40,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean, the Pegasus will be released with the DART spacecraft. The vehicle will boost the DART spacecraft into a polar orbit, where it will rendezvous with another spacecraft.

DART is a flight demonstrator that provides a key step in establishing autonomous rendezvous capabilities for the U.S. space program and the Vision for Space Exploration. While astronauts have piloted previous rendezvous and docking efforts, the unmanned DART spacecraft will have only computers and sensors to perform all of its rendezvous functions.

Future applications of technologies developed by the DART project will benefit the nation in future space systems development requiring in-space assembly, services, or other autonomous rendezvous operations.

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