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Does DNS lookup require registrar's servers?

Last night at about 02:00 PDT, the namesdirect.com (aka mydomain.com)
systems failed for more than 1/2 hour. It caused us a load of trouble,
since namesdirect.com is our registrar and the mydomain.com nameservers
are authoratative for our our domain. Basically, none of our domain names
resolved from anywhere on the internet during that time. Ugh!

My question is, can we avoid this problem in the future by having our
own DNS server be an NS authority (or at least one of them), instead
of relying on the ns*.mydomain.com servers?

Obviously this would protect us against the ns*.mydomain.com servers going
down, but doesn't a lookup still require querying namesdirect.com (our
registrar) to find out who the NS authorities are? If yes, then aren't we
still relying on the availability of our registrar's systems? If no,
then just how does a DNS server find out who the NS authority for a domain

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