Press Release

Orbital ATK Successfully Launches NASA’s CYGNSS Spacecraft Aboard Pegasus Rocket

By SpaceRef Editor
December 15, 2016
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Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today announced that its Pegasus® rocket successfully launched the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) satellite for NASA. The successful launch was the 29th consecutive successful mission for the Pegasus rocket since 1997 and the 43rd overall flight of the world’s first privately developed commercial rocket.

“We are proud to provide another successful Pegasus launch for our NASA customer,” said Rich Straka, Vice President and General Manager of Orbital ATK’s Launch Vehicles Division. “Congratulations to the NASA CYGNSS and Orbital ATK teams on another great mission.”

Pegasus is the leading launch system for the deployment of small satellites into low-Earth orbit. As the only NASA Launch Services Category 3 vehicle in the small-launch class, Pegasus is certified to launch NASA’s most valuable satellites.

The CYGNSS constellation of eight satellites is a NASA Earth System Science Pathfinder Mission that will collect space‐based measurements of the inner core of tropical cyclones. The CYGNSS constellation will provide scientists and meteorologists with the data necessary to improve tropical cyclone forecasting and tracking methods.

For the first phase of the launch, CYGNSS and the Pegasus rocket were carried into the atmosphere beneath Orbital ATK’s “Stargazer” L-1011 carrier aircraft. They were released from the plane at approximately 39,000 feet, and then the Pegasus motors ignited, carrying CYGNSS to its intended 35 degree orbit so the constellation will be able to survey the mid latitudes where most cyclones form.

As an air-launched system, Pegasus has unparalleled flexibility to operate from virtually anywhere on Earth with minimal ground support requirements. This was the first Pegasus mission in 12 years to launch from Cape Canaveral. Pegasus missions have been conducted from six separate sites in the U.S., Europe and the Marshall Islands.

“As a vertically integrated launch system, Pegasus combines key Orbital ATK strengths from multiple locations across the company,” said Scott Lehr, President of Orbital ATK’s Flight Systems Group.

The vehicle’s avionics and control systems, solid rocket motors, and composite structures are manufactured at Orbital ATK facilities in Chandler, Arizona; Dulles, Virginia; Vandenberg Air Force Base, California; and Bacchus and Clearfield, Utah.

The solid rocket motors used on Pegasus have also been used in more than 110 other Orbital ATK-built launch vehicles. These include the company’s Orbital Boost Vehicle (OBV) missile defense interceptors, IRBM- and ICBM-class target vehicles, Minotaur space launch vehicles and Hyper-X hypersonic test boosters.

About Orbital ATK

Orbital ATK is a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies. The company designs, builds and delivers space, defense and aviation systems for customers around the world, both as a prime contractor and merchant supplier. Its main products include launch vehicles and related propulsion systems; missile products, subsystems and defense electronics; precision weapons, armament systems and ammunition; satellites and associated space components and services; and advanced aerospace structures. Headquartered in Dulles, Virginia, Orbital ATK employs approximately 12,000 people in 18 states across the U.S. and in several international locations. For more information, visit

SpaceRef staff editor.