CYGNSS Launch Aboard Pegasus XL Rocket Postponed

Image Credit: NASA

December 12, 2016 – Today’s planned launch of NASA’s CYGNSS spacecraft aboard an Orbital ATK Pegasus rocket has been postponed. The hydraulic system that allows the Pegasus XL rocket to release from the L-1011 Stargazer aircraft was not meeting its prescribed pressures, indicating a problem with the hydraulic pump. The hydraulic system problem developed en route, after takeoff, in the last 25 minutes prior to the initial 6:30 a.m. MST launch time.

The Stargazer aircraft returned to the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Skid Strip where teams will assess the issue. The next possible launch opportunity is Tuesday, pending resolution of the pump issue.

To launch the satellites, the Stargazer aircraft flies off shore, where it releases the Pegasus rocket. Five seconds later, the solid propellant engine ignites and boosts the eight hurricane observatories to orbit using a deployment mechanism built by Sierra Nevada Corporation.

The CYGNSS satellites are designed to make frequent and accurate measurements of ocean surface winds throughout the life cycle of tropical storms and hurricanes.

The Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio built the CYGNSS micro satellites. SwRI will host the mission operations center at its Boulder, Colorado location.

Should the team resolve the hydraulic pump issue in time for a Tuesday morning launch attempt, the launch window is the same as today’s, and weather is improved, with an 80 percent “go” forecast.