Orbital Sciences Corporation L-1011, Stargazer carries HESSI spacecraft from Vandenberg AFB to the Kennedy Space Center, February 1, 2002


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The Orbital Sciences Corporation L-1011, Stargazer, carried the High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (HESSI) spacecraft from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday February 1.

Orbital Sciences Corp. L-1011, Stargazer is prepared for departure A small fleet of Orbital Sciences Corporation and NASA vehicles are grouped alongside the Stargazer as the crew prepares for take-off.

HESSI will study the X-ray and Gamma-ray spectra of solar flares. It has the ability to record the spectra from the different parts of each flare as it changes over time, creating movies that will help to reveal the nature of the forces that create and shape these titanic eruptions. It will also study high energy events outside the Solar System.

Link to the Goddard Space Flight Center's HESSI spacecraft home page.

Stargazer previously delivered the HESSI spacecraft to the Kennedy Space Center on June 2, 2001, the same day that the modified Pegasus booster carrying the Hyper-X supersonic combustion ramjet testbed went out of control. Stargazer returned to Vandenberg Air Force Base with the HESSI spacecraft last June21 so that Orbital Sciences Corporation could tend to the Pegasus-XL booster while the cause of the accident was determined.

NASA's NB-52B, 52-0008 takes off from Runway 22 at Edwards Air Force Base to launch the Hyper-X mission on June 2, 2001. NASA NB-52B takes off with the X-43A

Link to NASA Dryden's Hyper-X fact sheet.

The HESSI spacecraft was re-mated to the Pegasus launch vehicle on December 20. The payload fairing was installed around HESSI on January 11.

The Flight Readiness Review was held at Kennedy Space Center on Monday, January 14. At the conclusion of the review, NASA and Orbital Sciences engineers decided to take an additional week to review the similarities of materials and components used on the Pegasus Orion solid rocket motor and the Graphite Epoxy Motor (GEM) of National Missile Defense BV-3 target vehicle that failed during launch late last year at Vandenberg.

The Pegasus was re-mated to the L-1011 on Tuesday, January 29.

Orbital Sciences Corp. L-1011, Stargazer is prepared for departure Orbital Sciences Corporation staff prepare Stargazer for departure from Vandenberg AFB.

Link to the Orbital Sciences Corporation home page.

Orbital Sciences Corp. L-1011, Stargazer is prepared for departure The 3-stage Pegasus XL booster is visible underneath the fuselage of the Lockheed Tri-Star.

Take off was delayed from 8:00 until 10:00. During that time, the sun moved to the other side of the runway from the position I had set up to shoot from. The sound of the back up warning from the runway grooving machine a mile and a half away could be heard through the quiet morning air.

Deer running from the runway before the departure of Stargazer While we waited for Stargazer to take off, a flock of deer wandered onto the short grass next to the runway and began foraging. My escorts yelled across the runway to chase them out of harm's way.

Orbital Sciences Corp. L-1011, Stargazer takes off with the HESSI spacecraft, February 1, 2002 Once Stargazer's pilots had received their take-off clearance, the Tri-Star rolled onto the runway and immediately began accelerating toward us.

Orbital Sciences Corp. L-1011, Stargazer takes off with the HESSI spacecraft, February 1, 2002 The nose gear lifts off the runway as Stargazer accelerates.

Orbital Sciences Corp. L-1011, Stargazer takes off with the HESSI spacecraft, February 1, 2002 Stargazer takes off with the HESSI spacecraft.

Orbital Sciences Corp. L-1011, Stargazer takes off with the HESSI spacecraft, February 1, 2002 The gantry of Space Lanch Complex 2 is visible in the distance. A Delta-II carrying a constellation of Iridium satellites is scheduled for launch from SLC-2 at 10:00 A.M. this coming Friday morning.

HESSI launched successfully, February 5

The HESSI mission was successfully launched at 12:58 P.M. EST on Tuesday, February 5.

Stargazer carries the HESSI spacecraft and its Pegasus booster before launch on February 5, 2002 Stargazer carries the HESSI spacecraft and its Pegasus booster before launch. Frame from NASA-TV feed.

Stargazer carries the HESSI spacecraft and its Pegasus booster before launch on February 5, 2002 Frame from NASA-TV feed.

Stargazer dropped the Pegasus XL booster at an altitude of 39,000 feet at a location approximately 100 miles east-southeast from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Spacecraft separation from the Pegasus XL booster occurred approximately 9 1/2 minutes after launch. HESSI was placed in 370 mile-high (600 kilometer) orbit.

Boeing NB-52B Mothership

Initial missions of the Orbital Sciences' Pegasus satelite booster were lanched from NASA's NB-52B. The NB-52B became the world's first manned, winged, return to launch site satellite launcher when it launched the Orbital Sciences' Pegasus booster on April 5, 1990.

Orbital Sciences' Pegasus on NB-52B at October 6, 1990 Edwards AFB Open House The NB-52B was displayed with Pegasus s/n 002 at the October 6, 1990 Edwards Air Force Base Open House. Pegasus s/n 002 was launched with seven 48-pound Microsats on July 17, 1991. A failure during the first stage separation resulted in the satellites failing to achive the proper orbits.

The NB-52B launched satellites on Pegasus boosters on six occasions. The last satellite launch from the NB-52B took place on August 3, 1994.

Link to NASA Dryden's NB-52B Mothership Photo Gallery Contact Sheet.

Link to NASA Dryden's Pegasus Photo Gallery Contact Sheet.

Link to Encyclopedia Astronautica's Pegasus launch chronology.

Lockheed L-1011, N140SC, Stargazer

Orbital Sciences' L-1011 carries lockheed construction number 1067. It began its career with Air Canada, registered as C-FTNJ in March 1974.

Air Canada Lockheed L-1011, C-FTNJ at Los Angeles, April 13, 1974 Lockheed L-1011, C-FTNJ at Los Angeles, April 13, 1974, just one month after being delivered to Air Canada.

It was leased to Air Lanka for a couple of weeks in February 1982, during which it was registered as 4R-TNJ. Air Canada parked it at Marana, Arizona in November 1990. Orbital Sciences Corporation pulled it out of storage in May 1992, registered it as N140SC, and named it Stargazer.

A fairing has been constructed underneath the fuselage to hold the Pegasus XL.  The Lockheed L-1011 has a unusual double keel structure that the vertical fin of the Pegasus XL fits between.  The fin goes in the space formerly occupied by the lower deck galley.  The rest of the vehicle is carried entirely below the fuselage of the Stargazer. 

Stargazer has launched four Pagasus boosters and 20 Pegasus XL boosters. Stargazer was used to launch a Pegasus booster for the first time on April 3, 1995.

Link to Encyclopedia Astronautica's Pegasus XL launch chronology.

Orbital Sciences' L-1011, Stargazer at the Vandenberg AFB Open House, April 9, 1995 Stargazer was displayed at the Vandenberg AFB Open House on April 9, 1995, just six days after it first launched a Pegasus booster. The white trailer is used to transport the Pegasus booster and to load it onto the Stargazer.

Orbital Sciences' L-1011, Stargazer on the flightline at NASA Dryden FRC on July 29, 1997 Stargazer on the flightline at the Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base on July 29, 1997. Stargazer is particpating in Adaptive Performance Optimization experiments for the Dryden Flight Research Center.

Link to NASA Dryden's L-1011 Photo Gallery Contact Sheet.

Link to nasatech.com's page explaining the Adaptive Performance Opimization experiments.

Wide-field Infra-Red Explorer

Pegasus XL launches WIRE on March 4, 1999 A Pegasus XL booster carrying the Wide-field Infra Red Explorer (WIRE) spacecraft was launched from Stargazer off the California coast at 6:56 P.M. on March 4, 1999. The booster climbed out of the earth's shadow during the second stage engine burn in this time exposure. It is framed by the planets Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn. The bright spot at the lower right is the lights of the town of Buellton in the Santa Ynez Valley.

Link to the Infra-red Processing and Analysis WIRE home page.


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