The remote-controlled flight of the Daimler-Benz Aerospace (Dasa) Inspector free-flying satellite around the Russian Mir 1 space station on 17 December had to be abandoned on safety grounds after the vehicle suffered a suspected star-sensor failure.

The 1m-long, 72kg Inspector was unable to point towards its planned targets of the undocked Progress M36 cargo craft, which had delivered it to the station, and the Mir - especially to inspect damage to the Spektr module.

It was decided to let the craft drift away into another orbit, as already planned after the proximity operations with the Mir had been completed, and to continue its mission returning images of the Earth, when possible.

An early test of the video camera before the craft's ejection from the station was successful and Dasa is confident that it will receive sufficient data to support its work as a potential free-flying craft for the International Space Station.

A similar NASA prototype was successfully tested from the Space Shuttle STS87 in November.

Source: Flight International