NASA says mishap report on satellite mission too sensitive to release

Saying the information is too sensitive, NASA announced Friday that it will not release its report on the failed docking of two spacecraft in what would have been the first such rendezvous without human intervention.

NASA plans to release a summary of why the DART spacecraft did not complete its mission last year, but the full 70-page document contains details protected by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, space agency spokesman Michael Braukus said.

Launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in April 2005, the 800-pound (363-kilogram) Demonstration for Autonomous Rendezvous Technology spacecraft successfully located the Pentagon satellite it was to dock with and flew within 300 feet (91.44 meters) of it.

The project ended prematurely, however, when the spacecraft shut down halfway into the 24-hour mission and failed to complete several automated tasks, including circling the satellite and making close approaches.

The $110 million (Ђ91 million) project was meant to test whether robots can perform some of the tasks astronauts currently must do. Such advancements could lead to the robotic delivery of cargo to space stations and automated docking and repair between spacecraft.

An initial analysis found that DART suffered a fuel problem, but engineers did not detect a fuel leak. The mission manager also has said the robotic vehicle detected navigational errors with its on-board computers, reports AP.

O.Ch.