After several days of delays, a squadron of eight microsatellites was sent into orbit by a rocket launched from a high-flying airplane. Their mission? To study the winds that power the heart of a hurricane.
The launch was originally scheduled for Dec. 12, and then for Dec. 14. Each time, technical glitches forced a postponement. But today, it was all systems go as Orbital ATK’s Lockheed L-1011 Stargazer jet took off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Fliroda.
An hour after takeoff, the airplane released a three-stage Pegasus rocket from an altitude of 39,000 feet. The Pegasus fired up its rocket engines and deployed the eight suitcase-sized satellites into low Earth orbit.
“The deployments looked great,” said Southwest Research Institute’s John Scherrer, a project manager for the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System, or CYGNSS. “Right on time.”