Press Release

SORCE Spacecraft to be Launched January 25

By SpaceRef Editor
January 21, 2003
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The launch of the NASA-sponsored Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE) spacecraft aboard an Orbital Sciences Corporation (OSC) air-launched Pegasus vehicle is scheduled for deployment over the Atlantic Ocean from OSC’s L-1011 carrier aircraft on Saturday, Jan. 25 at 3:14 p.m. EST. This time is contained within a launch window that opens at 3:10 p.m. and closes at 4:08 p.m. EST.

The launch begins with the drop of the Pegasus rocket from the L-1011 over the Atlantic Ocean at an altitude of 39,000 feet at a location approximately 100 miles offshore east-southeast from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The launch is expected to be visible from the coast. Spacecraft separation from the Pegasus occurs approximately 10 minutes later. At that time the satellite will be in an orbit of 400 statute miles at a 40-degree inclination, orbiting the earth 15 times each day.

SORCE is a NASA Earth Science mission that will examine the roll of the Sun’s energy in climate change, information vital for our understanding and protection of our home planet. The satellite will provide state-of-the-art measurements of incoming X-ray, ultraviolet, visible, near-infrared, and total solar radiation.

The measurements provided by SORCE address long-term climate change, climate prediction, atmospheric ozone and ultraviolet-B radiation. These measurements are critical to studies of the Sun, its effect on our Earth system and influence on humankind.

The Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado is responsible for the overall program management of SORCE. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center provides the management, oversight, and engineering support for the spacecraft. LASP built, calibrated, and tested the SORCE instruments and subcontracted to Orbital Sciences Corporation for the spacecraft bus and integration of the five instruments. The Kennedy Space Center is responsible for spacecraft/launch vehicle integration, countdown management, launch vehicle engineering oversight and mission assurance.


The prelaunch news conference is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 24 at 2 p.m. EST at the NASA-KSC News Center. Participating in the briefing will be:

  • Dr. Donald Anderson, SORCE Program Manager
  • NASA Headquarters
  • Omar Baez, NASA Launch Director
  • John F. Kennedy Space Center
  • Bryan Baldwin, Pegasus Launch Vehicle Program Manager
  • Orbital Sciences Corporation
  • Dr. Gary Rottman, Mission Principle Investigator
  • Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics
  • University of Colorado at Boulder
  • Lt. Michael Jennings, Launch Weather Officer
  • 45th Weather Squadron, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station


Media needing accreditation should apply on news organization letterhead addressed to NASA Press Accreditations and faxed to 321/867-2692. Please include full name, Social Security number and birth date, place of birth and statement of U.S. Citizenship.


On launch day, Jan 25 at 1:15 p.m., media representatives will depart from the NASA-KSC Press Site and from Gate 3 by government-furnished transportation for the Skid Strip runway to view the take-off of the L-1011. After aircraft departure, media will be taken to the viewing room of the NASA Mission Director’s Center located in Hangar AE on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. From there, media may follow the deployment and launch of Pegasus/SORCE. Media may also return to the NASA-KSC News Center if they choose to follow progress of the flight.

Assuming a nominal flight of the Pegasus launch vehicle, a post-launch news conference will not be held. However, launch vehicle and spacecraft representatives will be available afterward at Hangar AE to informally answer questions from the media. Media who have elected to return to the Press Site will be able to teleconference from the News Center conference room if they so request.


This Pegasus launch occurs with a chase plane equipped with a television camera. There will be live coverage on NASA Television beginning at 2 p.m. EST and will conclude after spacecraft separation, approximately 15 minutes after launch. Commentary and audio of all Pegasus/SORCE briefings will be available on the “V” audio circuits which may be dialed directly at 321/867- 1220, 1240, 1260.

The Pegasus/SORCE prelaunch news conference will be televised at 2 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 24. On launch day, Saturday, Jan. 25, launch coverage begins on NASA Television at 2 p.m. EST.

NASA Television is available on GE-2, Transponder 9C, located at 85 degrees West longitude.

These activities will also be webcast and accessed through the KSC Home Page at


On launch day, the Pegasus/SORCE News Center at NASA-KSC may be reached at 321/867-2468 between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. EST. A recorded status report will also available beginning Friday, Jan. 24 by dialing 321/867-2525.

SpaceRef staff editor.