January 27, 2003
The SORCE satellite is successfully launched! The launch went exactly as planned, without a hitch. Even the weather cooperated after days of very cold weather in Florida. Spirited cheering could be heard at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado, Kennedy Space Center, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and Orbital Sciences Corporation as SORCE went into orbit.
Late morning the launch management team met at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) to begin the final launch procedures. The 7-person flight crew for the L-1011 started their launch take-off checklist about an hour before the aircraft carrier engines were started at 1:00 p.m. EST. The L-1011 was airborne by 2:16 p.m. EST working to reach the required 40,000-foot elevation necessary to drop the Pegasus. With the responsibility of providing live coverage of the launch, a chase plane took off shortly after the L-10ll to film the drop from behind.
The L-10ll was approximately 120 miles south-east of Cape Canaveral off the Florida coast when Mission Operations personnel said “3 – 2 – 1 – Drop” and the precious cargo was released. After dropping for approximately 5 seconds, Stage 1 of the rocket ignited. Stage 2 ignited about 90 seconds later, and Stage 3 completed the launch effort by igniting about 6 minutes after that. Spacecraft separation occurred at approximately 1:27 p.m. EST, and the first signal from SORCE came through about a minute later via a NASA tracking satellite. A high data rate contact was successful about 20 minutes later by a ground station in Hartebeesthoek, South Africa. An hour after launch everything was going smoothly – SORCE was in pointing mode, solar arrays were deployed, and all systems were working well.«Return to the Meetings/News page