Spaceflight Insider

Technical problem delays CYGNSS launch – UPDATE

The Pegasus XL rocket and its CYGNSS payload will take off From Cape Canaveral slung under the L-1011, which will then fly some 100 miles out over the Atlantic Ocean. The rocket will then be deployed and activated. Photo Credit: Michael Howard / SpaceFlight Insider

A problem with a hydraulic pump caused a scrub for the Dec. 12 launch attempt of the Pegasus XL rocket from its carrier L-1011 aircraft. Photo Credit: Michael Howard / SpaceFlight Insider

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — After reaching altitude and avoiding inclement weather, a problem with a hydraulic pump ultimately caused a scrub for today’s Pegasus XL launch to carry the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) satellite constellation into orbit.

The team on board the modified Lockheed Martin L-1011 aircraft spent nearly the whole launch window troubleshooting the problem; however, more time was needed, so the aircraft with the Pegasus rocket and payload turned back toward Cape Canaveral. Initial indications from the crew are that the problem might be with a circuit breaker on the Pegasus XL’s release mechanism.

Orbital ATK has a second window assigned on Tuesday, Dec. 13. While the weather was not the ultimate cause of today’s scrub, the 45th Weather Squadron is predicting better conditions for Tuesday’s launch attempt with only a 20 percent chance of rain. The drop time will be the same as Monday’s attempt: 8:19 a.m. EST (13:19 GMT). The launch window also again be one hour long.

If the team cannot solve the problem or if the weather scrubs Tuesday’s attempt, the mission team indicated they would follow the standard process for scheduling another flight and would work around currently scheduled uses of the Eastern Range.

Late in the day on Monday, Dec. 12, Orbital ATK issued the following announcement, noting that the flight had been rescheduled to allow for parts to be delivered from California:

“The next launch attempt of our #Pegasus rocket is scheduled no earlier than December 14, with a launch window from 8:20 to 9:20 a.m. EST. This additional time will allow for a replacement L-1011 carrier aircraft component to arrive from Mojave, California, and be installed, as well as support the required crew rest requirements. Today’s launch was aborted due to an issue with the launch vehicle release system on the L-1011 Stargazer. Read more on the mission page here: ow.ly/rmYY3072WSI 

Orbital ATK's L-1011 Stargazer takes off from the skid strip at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida with NASA's CYGNSS spacecraft. Photo Credit: Mike Howard / SpaceFlight Insider

Orbital ATK’s L-1011 Stargazer takes off from the skid strip at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida with NASA’s CYGNSS spacecraft. Photo Credit: Mike Howard / SpaceFlight Insider

 

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Bart Leahy is a freelance technical writer living in Orlando, Florida. Leahy's diverse career has included work for The Walt Disney Company, NASA, the Department of Defense, Nissan, a number of commercial space companies, small businesses, nonprofits, as well as the Science Cheerleaders.

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