Technicians with Orbital ATK prepare one of the CYGNSS microsatellites for installation on the deployment module at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in October 2016. Photo credit: NASA/Rod Speed
Teams from a variety of organizations within NASA, academia and industry are responsible for bringing the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System mission to fruition.
The Space Physics Research Laboratory at the University of Michigan College of Engineering in Ann Arbor leads overall mission execution in partnership with the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. The Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering Department at the University of Michigan leads the science investigation, and the Earth Science Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate oversees the mission.
NASA’s Launch Services Program is responsible for spacecraft to launch vehicle integration and launch management, and Orbital ATK of Dulles, Virginia, is providing the Pegasus XL launch service to NASA.
The flight crew aboard the Stargazer is working through its climb/cruise checklist as it sets off toward the proper location and altitude to deploy the Pegasus XL rocket for launch at 8:35 a.m.
The Orbital ATK “Stargazer” L-1011 aircraft has taken off from the Skid Strip at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Attached to its underside is the company’s Pegasus XL rocket containing the eight CYGNSS microsatellites.
The NASA F-18 chase plane has taken off from the Skid Strip at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
It will be followed a few minutes from now by the Stargazer aircraft carrying the Pegasus XL rocket and, sealed inside the rocket’s payload fairing, the CYGNSS payload.
The launch team is ‘go’ for takeoff. Standing by for takeoff of the F-18 chase plane. The Orbital ATK Stargazer carrying the Pegasus XL rocket is expected to take off at 7:38 a.m. Launch time remains 8:35 a.m.
The NASA F-18 clase plane that will provide visual contact and video of the L-1011 and Pegasus XL rocket once they’re airborne is taxiing into position for takeoff from the Skid Strip runway at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
NASA Launch Manager Tim Dunn, center, on console in the Mission Director’s Center. Credit: NASA TV
NASA Launch Manager Tim Dunn has polled his team and given the L-1011 clearance for takeoff.
Stargazer taxiing to runway. Credit: NASA TV
The Orbital ATK Stargazer L-1011 aircraft is taxiing to the end of the runway at the Skid Strip in preparation for takeoff.
The F-18 chase plane should follow shortly.
Standing by for taxi of the L-1011, as well as the chase plane, which will take off prior to the L-1011.
F-18 chase plane awaiting clearance to taxi. Credit: NASA TV
Orbital ATK Stargazer aircraft preparing to taxi. Credit: NASA TV
Launch of a Pegasus XL rocket. Credit: NASA
The three-stage, all-solid-fueled Orbital ATK Pegasus XL rocket is the only airborne, commercially developed launch vehicle. At 55 feet long, if stood on its end it would be about half the height of the Statue of Liberty. Its 39,000-foot deployment altitude is 10,000 feet higher than Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth – and the aircraft that carries it to that altitude is Orbital ATK’s L-1011 aircraft, “Stargazer.”
NASA’s Launch Services Program, or LSP, is based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The program selects the best launcher for each mission’s payload, and selected the Pegasus XL vehicle for the eight microsatellites comprising the CYGNSS spacecraft.
CYGNSS will be the 15th NASA mission LSP has launched aboard the Pegasus vehicle.