Orbital's Pegasus Rocket Successfully Launches NASA's SORCE Satellite

Press Release From: Orbital ATK
Posted: Monday, January 27, 2003

SORCE Mission Was 32nd Flight of Air-Launched Pegasus Rocket And Its 18th Consecutive Success

Orbital Sciences Corporation announced that on Saturday, January 25, it successfully launched the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA's) Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE) satellite into its targeted orbit aboard the company's Pegasus® rocket. The 315 kilogram (693 pound) SORCE scientific satellite, which Orbital also designed and built at its Dulles, Virginia, satellite manufacturing facility, was accurately delivered into its targeted orbit approximately 640 kilometers (400 miles) above the Earth, inclined at 40 degrees to the equator.

Mr. David W. Thompson, Orbital's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said, "The successful launch of the SORCE satellite underscores the reliability of the Pegasus launch system. We are exceptionally pleased to begin a very busy 2003 operational campaign for the Pegasus program with such a successful mission."

Mr. Thompson continued his remarks, saying, "We wish NASA and the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics the greatest of success in their important scientific mission to study the Sun and its influence on Earth's climate."

The powered flight sequence for the SORCE mission took about 11 minutes, from the time the Pegasus rocket was released from its L-1011 carrier aircraft at 3:14 p.m. (EST) to the time that the satellite was deployed into orbit. Preliminary information indicates that the SORCE satellite is working as planned in the early stages of its mission.

About the Pegasus Launch System

The SORCE mission, which originated from Cape Canaveral, Florida, was the 32nd flight of the Pegasus air-launch system, a depth of experience unmatched by any other small commercial space launch vehicle. The SORCE mission was also the 18th consecutive success for Pegasus, a record of reliability that has led NASA to certify the vehicle as the only small launch vehicle in its Payload Risk Category 3, which the space agency reserves for its highest value space missions.

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.

About the SORCE Mission

Orbital designed and built the SORCE satellite for NASA under contract to the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado. The SORCE program merges two previous scientific efforts: the Solar-Stellar Irradiance Comparison Experiment/Solar Atmospheric Variability Explorer (SOLSTICE/SAVE) mission and the Total Solar Irradiance Mission (TSIM). The SORCE satellite is based on the company's state-of-the- art LEOStar platform and carries four instruments on board.

Orbital is one of the world's leading developers and manufacturers of small space systems for commercial, civil government and military customers. The company's primary products are spacecraft and launch vehicles, including low-orbit, geostationary and planetary spacecraft for communications, remote sensing and scientific missions; ground- and air-launched rockets that deliver satellites into orbit; and missile defense boosters that are used as interceptor and target vehicles. Orbital also offers space-related technical services to government agencies and develops and builds satellite-based transportation management systems for public transit agencies and private vehicle fleet operators.

More information about Orbital can be found at

CONTACT: Barron Beneski, Public and Investor Relations of Orbital Sciences Corporation, +1-703-406-5528,

// end //

More news releases and status reports or top stories.

Please follow SpaceRef on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.

Kepler Communications - Aether - Unbound Connectivity to your on-orbit assets
Terran Orbital - Extraordinary Capabilities to Support Any Mission