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First Ecliptic RocketCam™ on a Spacecraft to Launch April 15

2005 Apr 13

The first Ecliptic RocketCam™ video system to be used onboard a spacecraft is scheduled for launch on April 15 aboard NASA's Demonstration of Autonomous Rendezvous Technology (DART) vehicle.

This launch was originally scheduled for last October. Real-time online coverage of the launch, rendezvous and proximity operations events by Justin Ray is available at Spaceflight Now.

The small yet capable spacecraft, built by Orbital Sciences Corp. for NASA, will be launched with an Orbital-built Pegasus XL winged rocket from its carrier aircraft off the California coast in mid-morning and placed in low Earth orbit about 10 minutes later. All planned DART in-orbit operations will be completed within about 24 hours from launch.

Since 1997, the popular Ecliptic RocketCam systems have been successfully launched aboard 34 different rockets and other notable vehicles such as SpaceShipOne. The DART mission represents a key milestone in Ecliptic's strategic plan to migrate RocketCam systems into Earth orbit and beyond.

The system on DART is one of Ecliptic's RocketCam Analog Video System (AVS) solutions, and in this application consists of a single color NTSC video camera looking forward on the spacecraft, an S-band transmitter and downlink antenna. Power for the AVS is supplied by DART's all-battery power subsystem. Live video transmissions from the AVS will be received by several DART tracking stations located in the northern and southern polar regions.

This summer another spacecraft, the USAF STP-R1 vehicle launching on an Orbital-built Minotaur rocket, will carry a more capable 5-camera RocketCam Digital Video System (DVS).

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