Tue, Jan 28, 2003
Eleven Minutes, From Release to Orbit
The Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE)
satellite was launched Saturday on a Pegasus rocket from Cape
Canaveral (FL), carrying four instruments to study and measure
solar irradiance, the main source of energy in the Earth's
atmosphere. The SORCE satellite is based on Orbital's LEOStar
An Orbital L-1011 aircraft carried the rocket to approximately
40,000 feet over the ocean, where it was released in a horizontal
position before igniting its first-stage Orion motor. The composite
payload fairing separated ten minutes and 40 seconds into flight,
following second-stage ignition. Then, the third-stage Orion motor
completed its burn, thrusting the satellite payload into orbit.
The satellite will be fully-tested, and operational, in a matter
The measurements provided by SORCE specifically address
long-term climate change, natural variability and enhanced climate
prediction, and atmospheric ozone and UV-B radiation. With these
measurements, Earth scientists will move a step closer to a full
understanding of the Sun's energy output with the launch of the
Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE) satellite.
solid fuel Orion rocket motors helped launch the Orbital Sciences
Corporation Pegasus® XL vehicle. The motors, which provide
power for all three stages of the air-launched Pegasus XL rocket,
have flown on the vehicle since its first mission in 1990.
ATK Composites is based in Clearfield (UT). Since its maiden
flight in 1990, Orbital's Pegasus rocket has conducted 32 missions
and launched more than 70 satellites -- becoming the world's
standard for affordable and reliable small launch vehicles.
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