Launch Now Set for 8:30 a.m. EST; Weather Forecast Remains 60 Percent ‘Go’

Orbital ATK Stargazer aircraft arrives at the Skid Strip at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The Orbital ATK Stargazer aircraft, with the Pegasus XL rocket mounted beneath, arrives at the Skid Strip at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Dec. 2. Photo credit: NASA/Bill White

Good morning from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, where NASA’s Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System, or CYGNSS, spacecraft is scheduled to launch this morning. The launch time has been adjusted to 8:30 a.m. EST, although the one-hour launch window remains the same and opens at 8:19 a.m. Times throughout the blog will be given in Eastern.

CYGNSS will take off aboard an Orbital ATK air-launched Pegasus XL launch vehicle, which will be carried to an altitude of about 39,000 feet and released over the Atlantic Ocean from the company’s L-1011 aircraft, “Stargazer.”

The launch day forecast from the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron calls for a 60 percent chance of favorable weather. The only weather condition not within limits is precipitation in the flight path, but that is expected to clear before launch time.

CYGNSS will make frequent and accurate measurements of ocean surface winds throughout the lifecycle of tropical storms and hurricanes. The CYGNSS constellation consists of eight microsatellite observatories that will measure surface winds in and near a hurricane’s inner core, including regions beneath the eyewall and intense inner rainbands that previously could not be measured from space.

CYGNSS Launch Coverage Starts Here at 6:30 a.m. EST

NASA’s CYGNSS mission is set to begin with launch aboard an Orbital ATK Pegasus XL rocket this morning. Updates from the countdown will begin right here at 6:30 a.m. and on NASA Television at 7 a.m.

The Pegasus XL rocket is an air-launched vehicle that begins its flight after it is dropped from Orbital ATK’s modified L-1011 aircraft, “Stargazer,” which will take off from the Skid Strip runway at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and carry the rocket to its release point above the Atlantic Ocean an altitude of approximately 39,000 feet. So, for those visiting or living in the Central Florida area who are looking for viewing suggestions, this will be a tough launch to see outside, and viewing online and on television is recommended.

Forecast Improves to 60 Percent ‘Go’

The L-1 Day forecast from the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron has improved to a 60 percent chance of favorable weather for the launch of NASA’s CYGNSS mission spacecraft. Launch is scheduled for 8:24 a.m. EST Monday during the one-hour window, which opens at 8:19 a.m. CYGNSS will take off aboard an Orbital Sciences ATK air-launched Pegasus XL launch vehicle about an hour before launch. The rocket is scheduled for deployment over the Atlantic Ocean from Orbital’s L-1011 carrier aircraft. Launch coverage will begin at 6:30 a.m. here on NASA’s Launch Blog and at 7 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

CYGNSS will make frequent and accurate measurements of ocean surface winds throughout the lifecycle of tropical storms and hurricanes. The CYGNSS constellation consists of eight microsatellite observatories that will measure surface winds in and near a hurricane’s inner core, including regions beneath the eyewall and intense inner rainbands that previously could not be measured from space. For more information about NASA’s CYGNSS mission, visit https://www.nasa.gov/cygnss

CYGNSS L-1 Day Launch Weather Forecast

Launch Day:
Probability of Weather Prohibiting Launch:  40%
Primary Concern:    Flight Through Precipitation, Cumulus Clouds

If Launch Delayed 24 Hours:
Probability of Weather Prohibiting Launch:  20%
Primary Concern:    Precipitation, Cumulus Clouds

A Day of CYGNSS Activities

It is L-2 days here in Florida for NASA’s CYGNSS mission and there are several events scheduled that can be seen on social media and NASA TV this afternoon. We’ve also released a pair of launch preview videos which you can see at the bottom or on Kennedy’s YouTube page. The CYGNSS mission is to launch Monday at 8:24 a.m. EST. Here’s what’s coming up today:

Noon – Facebook Live
Kennedy will host a Facebook Live event at noon from the Skid Strip runway at nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Briefers will highlight both the science involved in the CYGNSS mission, as well as the L-1011 aircraft and the Pegasus rocket, and participants will get a view inside the airplane. The event will stream live on Kennedy’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/NASAKennedy

1 p.m. – Prelaunch news conference (NASA TV)
Briefing participants are:
Christine Bonniksen, CYGNSS program executive in the Earth Science Division, of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate
Tim Dunn, launch director at Kennedy
Bryan Baldwin, Pegasus launch vehicle program manager with Orbital ATK
John Scherrer, CYGNSS project manager at the Southwest Research Institute
Mike Rehbein, launch weather officer with the 45th Weather Squadron at Cape Canaveral

1:45 p.m. – CYGNSS Mission Science Briefing (NASA TV)
Briefing participants include:
Chris Ruf, CYGNSS principal investigator with the Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering at the University of Michigan
Aaron Ridley, CYGNSS constellation scientist with the Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering at the University of Michigan
Mary Morris, doctoral student with the Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering at the University of Michigan

Weather Forecast Remains 40 Percent Favorable for Monday Launch

The L-2 Day forecast from the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron continues to predict a 40 percent chance of favorable weather for the launch of NASA’s Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) spacecraft. Primary concerns are precipitation, lightning and cumulus clouds.

Launch is scheduled for 8:24 a.m. EST Monday, Dec. 12. During the one-hour window, which opens at 8:19 a.m., CYGNSS will take off aboard an Orbital ATK air-launched Pegasus XL launch vehicle. The rocket is scheduled for deployment over the Atlantic Ocean from Orbital’s L-1011 carrier aircraft.

Orbital ATK Stargazer Arrives with Pegasus XL and CYGNSS

Orbital ATK Stargazer aircraft arrives at the Skid Strip at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.The Orbital ATK L-1011 Stargazer aircraft touched down at 3:57 p.m. EST at the Skid Strip at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Attached beneath the Stargazer is the Orbital ATK Pegasus XL with NASA’s Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) on board. CYGNSS was processed and prepared for its mission at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

CYGNSS is scheduled for its airborne launch aboard the Pegasus XL rocket from the Skid Strip on Dec. 12. CYGNSS will make frequent and accurate measurements of ocean surface winds throughout the life cycle of tropical storms and hurricanes. The data that CYGNSS provides will enable scientists to probe key air-sea interaction processes that take place near the core of storms, which are rapidly changing and play a critical role in the beginning and intensification of hurricanes.

Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

CYGNSS Mission ‘Go’ to Continue Processing After Flight Readiness Review

Technicians and engineers perform final wing installations on the Orbital ATK Pegasus XL rocket which will launch eight NASA Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System, or CYGNSS, spacecraft.At the conclusion of Flight Readiness Review at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Monday, senior NASA and contractor managers voted unanimously to proceed with processing toward the targeted launch of the CYGNSS mission on an Orbital ATK Pegasus XL rocket on Monday, Dec. 12.

The eight NASA Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) spacecraft installed on their deployment module undergo inspectionsThe team is progressing towards mating the Pegasus rocket to Orbital ATK’s L-1011 aircraft, nicknamed “Stargazer,” next week at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for the ferry flight to Kennedy. A final “go” decision will be made at the CYGNSS Launch Readiness Review on Saturday, Dec. 10.

On launch day, the Stargazer aircraft will take off from the Skid Strip at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, carry the Pegasus XL rocket to a precise drop point for its release and launch. The two-year CYGNSS mission will make frequent and accurate measurements of ocean surface winds throughout the life cycle of tropical storms and hurricanes. The data that CYGNSS provides will enable scientists to probe key air-sea interaction processes that take place near the core of storms, which are rapidly changing and play a critical role in the beginning and intensification of hurricanes.

Photo above: NASA/Alex Valdez
Photo at right: NASA/Randy Beaudoin