L-1011 and Pegasus tour at Vandenberg
A day before the L-1011 carrier aircraft will depart Vandenberg Air Force Base to ferry the Orbital Sciences air-launched Pegasus rocket and its NASA X-ray space telescope to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific, reporters got a tour of the jet and rocket at the "hot pad" staging area adjacent to the runway.
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Photo credit: Justin Ray/Spaceflight Now
Ground technicians remove tent enclosure from around the rocket.
This will be the 41st flight of the winged Pegasus.
The L-1011 will carry Pegasus to 39,000 feet at Mach 0.8 for its launch.
Pegasus was assembled and fitted with its payload in Orbital's facilities at Vandenberg.
The 51,000-pound rocket is secured to the aircraft by five hooks.
Come aboard the aircraft for a tour!
The carrier jet has been launching Pegasus rockets for 18 years.
This will be the L-1011's first mission new, fuel-efficient engines.
Pilot Bill Weaver (left) and co-pilot Ebb Harris (right) in the cockpit.
Weaver shows the arm switch and release button used to launch the Pegasus.
Launch Panel Operators in the first class section of aircraft monitor rocket systems.
Pegasus is readied for its 4,700-mile ferryflight to the equatorial launch site.
Orbital Sciences' L-1011 is otherwise known as "Stargazer."