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Orbital ATK’s Pegasus rocket was successfully launched today from the bottom of its L-1011 airplane, placing in orbit a NASA constellation of eight smallsat satellites designed to study hurricanes.
he use of an eight-satellite constellation will allow for more frequent observations, allowing for a better characterization of the early stages in a cyclone’s formation and of the storm’s eventual decay. Once in orbit, the satellites will be spaced evenly around their orbital plane, achieving an angular separation of around 45 degrees from each other. The CYGNSS satellites were built by the Southwest Research Institute and the University of Michigan, while their deployer was developed by Sierra Nevada Corporation. Each satellite has a mass of 28.9 kilograms (63.7 lb), with an overall payload mass of 345.6 kilograms (761.8 lb) including the deployer. The CYGNSS mission is expected to last a minimum of two years.
This was the first Pegasus launch since 2013. I’m not sure why it has not been getting more business, but it does have another launch now scheduled for June.