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Launch of Pegasus

Posted: December 4, 1999

An Orbital Sciences Pegasus rocket launched seven ORBCOMM data relay satellites on December 4 in a mission staged at Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia.

Taxi to takeoff
Orbital Sciences' L-1011 carrier jet, called Stargazer, rolls toward the runway for departure at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility.
Carrying a rocket
The Stargazer aircraft ferried the Pegasus rocket to a predetermined point over the Atlantic Ocean, about 50 miles east of Virginia, for the launch.
Carrying rocket
Checking the launcher
During the hour-long flight by the L-1011, a T-38 chase plane cruised along side to provide a last look at the Pegasus rocket before launch.
Pegasus attached
Loaded for launch
Nestled inside the protective nose cone of the Pegasus rocket were seven disk-shaped ORBCOMM communications satellites.
Rocket nose
Ready to be dropped
In the final 45 seconds of the countdown, the flight control aerosurfaces on the Pegasus first stage were placed on battery power. The fins then completed a movement test.
After being released from Stargazer, the Pegasus fell for five seconds before the first stage solid-rocket motor ignited.
Streaking to space
Pegasus began its powered journey to orbit from an altitude of about 40,000 feet. It took over an hour before the satellites were released into their 510-mile high orbits.
One stage down
The first stage solid-fuel motor completed its firing within 70 seconds. Moments later the spent stage was jettisoned and the second stage was ignited.
A long road to orbit
The ground track the Pegasus followed into space with the ORBCOMM satellites was a lengthy one. The launch began off the coast of Virginia and ended north of Australia.

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