Orbital ATK’s Pegasus XL rocket will take about eight minutes to reach orbit with NASA’s eight CYGNSS weather research microsatellites, then comes deployment of the spacecraft more than 300 miles (500 kilometers) above Earth.
The 51,000-pound (23-metric ton) rocket will drop from the belly of a modified L-1011 carrier plane, named Stargazer, flying on an east-southeast path over the Atlantic Ocean at an altitude of 39,000 feet (11,900 meters).
The Pegasus rocket, launching on its 43rd orbital mission, will fire three solid-fueled stages in succession, then release the eight Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System spacecraft two at a time.
The images below were recorded from a previous flight.
Data source: NASA/Orbital ATK
T-00:00: Pegasus Drop
T+00:05: First Stage Ignition
T+01:17: First Stage Burnout
T+01:33: First Stage Separation/Second Stage Ignition
A new European satellite carrying instruments to track changes in the world’s oceans, measure receding ice sheets and chart vegetation growth climbed into orbit Wednesday on top of a Russian Rockot launcher.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off Tuesday with five communications satellites for Iridium’s commercial voice, data relay, and tracking network, and a pair of U.S.-German research craft to probe Earth’s climate and water cycle. Launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, occurred at 12:47 p.m. PDT (3:47 p.m. EDT; 1947 GMT).