by Staff Writers
Dulles VA (SPX) Jun 14, 2012
Orbital Sciences reports that its Pegasus rocket has successfully launched the company-built Nuclear Spectroscopic Array Telescope (NuSTAR) satellite for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) into its intended orbit. Early results indicate that the NuSTAR satellite is operating as expected at this stage of its mission.
The Pegasus/NuSTAR mission originated from the U.S. Army's Reagan Test Site, Kwajalein Atoll, which is a part of the Marshall Islands in the mid-Pacific Ocean. Following a one-hour preplanned positioning flight, the Pegasus rocket was released from Orbital's L-1011 carrier aircraft at approximately 12:00 p.m. (EDT). After a 13-minute powered flight sequence, Pegasus launched the 770 lb. NuSTAR satellite into its targeted circular orbit approximately 400 miles above the Earth.
Orbital designed, manufactured and tested the NuSTAR satellite at its Dulles, VA satellite manufacturing facility. The Pegasus rocket was assembled and tested at company facilities at Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA.
The successful launch by the Pegasus rocket was the 27th consecutive successful mission for the Pegasus program over a 15-year period and the 41st overall flight of the company's unique air-launched system since its introduction in 1990.
"We are very pleased to support NASA and JPL on this important scientific project," said Mr. Ron Grabe, Orbital's Executive Vice President and General Manager of its Launch Systems Group.
"The NuSTAR program is another 'dual' mission for our launch vehicle and satellite engineering teams, building on our history of supporting successful NASA scientific programs such as AIM, GALEX, SORCE, ACRIMSAT and IBEX with our launch vehicles and satellite platforms."
The NuSTAR satellite project is led by Dr. Fiona Harrison, the mission's Principal Investigator from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). It is part of NASA's Small Explorer (SMEX) series that is managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center for NASA's Science Mission Directorate.
These low-cost, highly effective small satellite missions have enabled scientists to gather critical data about the Earth's environment, the solar system and beyond. In addition to Caltech, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is one of Orbital's key mission partners on the NuSTAR project.
Orbital provided a comprehensive mission support combination for the NuSTAR mission, including performing overall system integration of the payload with the company's LEOStar-2 satellite platform, and conducting the launch operations with its Pegasus air-launched rocket.
Pegasus is the world's leading launch system for the deployment of small satellites into low-Earth orbit. Its patented air-launch system, in which the rocket is launched from beneath Orbital's "Stargazer" L-1011 carrier aircraft over the ocean, reduces cost and provides customers with unparalleled flexibility to operate from virtually anywhere on Earth with minimal ground support requirements. The
NuSTAR launch from Kwajalein is an example of its unrivaled mission versatility. It remains the world's only small space launch vehicle that is certified with NASA's Payload Risk Category 3, which the space agency reserves for its highest value space missions.
NuSTAR at Caltech
Launch Pad at Space-Travel.com
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