Demonstration for Autonomous Rendezvous Technology [DART]
The Demonstration for Autonomous Rendezvous Technology, or DART, was a space flight demonstrator designed to test technologies required for the OSP to locate and rendezvous with the Station. The DART was designed for autonomous operations. DART was controlled by computers, and it does not have a pilot. DART was NASA's first completely computer controlled, rendezvous capable spacecraft.
The design certification review was a lengthy technical analysis to verify the vehicle design with regard to safety, performance and functional requirements. The review evaluates the results of the project's planning and analysis throughout manufacturing, integration, and testing. The review was conducted when the vehicle design and drawings are complete.
Developed by Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Va., the DART will be launched on a Pegasus rocket from an L-1011 jet aircraft. At approximately 40,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean, the Pegasus will be released with the DART spacecraft.
Once the DART vehicle was launched, some of the hardware and software tested would enable it to travel from a parking orbit around the Earth to rendezvous, or maneuver close to, a target satellite in space. When DART reaches the satellite, it will perform several close proximity operations. The entire 24-hour mission would be performed without a human pilot.
The DART was the first of three flight-testing demonstrators. Other demonstrators for the OSP program include the X-37 flight demonstrator developed by Boeing Expendable Launch Systems of Huntington Beach, CA, and the launch pad abort demonstrator developed by Lockheed Martin Corporation of Denver.
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