Northrop Grumman’s Pegasus XL rocket will take about 11 minutes to place NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, satellite into a roughly 357-mile-high (575-kilometer) orbit after an airborne launch off Florida’s east coast.
The nearly 53,000-pound (24-metric ton) rocket will drop from the belly of a modified L-1011 carrier plane, named Stargazer, flying on an easterly path over the Atlantic Ocean at an altitude of 39,000 feet (11,900 meters).
The Pegasus rocket, launching on its 44th orbital mission, will fire three solid-fueled stages in succession, then release NASA’s ICON satellite into orbit to begin a mission studying how weather in Earth’s atmosphere influences plasma conditions at the edge of space in the ionosphere, a boundary that can interfere with radio communications and satellite navigation.
The images below were recorded from a previous flight.
Data source: NASA/Northrop Grumman
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 solid-fueled Minotaur 4 rocket lifted off from Wallops Island, Virginia at 9:46 a.m. EDT (1346 GMT) Wednesday. The four-stage rocket, comprised of retired Peacekeeper missile parts, launched on a mission to deliver four classified payloads into orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office.
SpaceX’s first Crew Dragon spacecraft wrapped up its five-day stay at the International Space Station at 2:31 a.m. EST (0731 GMT) Friday with a smooth undocking, then nailed an on-target splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean east of Florida at 8:45 a.m. EST (1345 GMT).