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Pegasus launches DART spacecraft
Posted: Fri, Apr 15, 2005, 9:51 PM ET (0151 GMT)
DART spacecraft illustration (OSC) A Pegasus XL booster successfully launched a NASA technology demonstration satellite Friday. The Pegasus XL departed its L-1011 carrier aircraft off the coast from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, at 1:25 pm EDT (1725 GMT). It placed its payload, the Demonstration of Autonomous Rendezvous Technology (DART) spacecraft, into a 765-kilometer polar orbit 11 minutes later. DART is designed to test new technologies to allow spacecraft to approach and rendezvous with other spacecraft in a completely automated fashion. During its mission, slated to last just one day, DART will make several approaches to MUBLCOM, an inactive military communications satellite. DART was scheduled to launch last fall but was delayed several times, including a long postponement after engineers raised concerned that the g-forces imposed on DART by the Pegasus booster could damage the spacecraft.
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