Main » 2013 » July » 5 » Pegasus launch put a solar research spacecraft in orbit.
Pegasus launch put a solar research spacecraft in orbit.
On June 28 at 01:30 UTC the L-1011 "Stargazer” aircraft-carrier departed Vandenberg Air Force Base. The aircraft carried an Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL rocket hooked to the belly. Flying a pre-determined "race track pattern" northward over the Pacific, the aircraft flew by the drop zone to measure weather conditions while the launch team conducted countdown testing. Achieving the precise heading and receiving a final "go" from the ground-based launch officials, co-pilot pushed a button on the center console of the cockpit that opened hooks holding the rocket and Pegasus was away cleanly. The "Pegasus XL” rocket free-fell for five seconds, dropping 300 feet below the aircraft while traveling at Mach 0.82. During the plunge, the onboard flight computer sensed the rocket's separation from the carrier jet and issued a command to release the safety inhibits in preparation for ignition. The "Pegasus XL” rocket orbited the IRIS (Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph) spacecraft. IRIS will scan across the sun to construct data over a range of heights, temperatures and densities in the solar atmosphere.