Dulles Va., - January 30, 1998 - Orbital Sciences Corporation has announced that it is prepared to launch NASA's Student Nitric Oxide Explorer (SNOE) satellite aboard the company's Pegasus(R) XL rocket on February 4, 1998. BATSAT, a communications satellite built by Orbital, will also fly on the mission as a secondary payload. The launch will originate from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and is subject to final preparations and testing, as well as acceptable weather conditions at the launch site.
On the launch day, Orbital's L-1011 aircraft will carry the winged Pegasus XL rocket to approximately 39,000 feet at a predetermined location over the Pacific Ocean, where the rocket will be released. After a flight of approximately 11 minutes, Pegasus will first deliver SNOE into its planned circular orbit at an altitude of 580 kilometers, inclined at 97.75 degrees.
The rocket will then deploy the BATSAT satellite into the same orbit. The SNOE/BATSAT launch is scheduled to occur at approximately 11:04 p.m. Pacific time, with a time window that extends from about 11:00 p.m. to 11:10 p.m. Pacific time. Initial information from the SNOE satellite is expected to be gathered as it passes over a ground station at Poker Flat, Alaska, about an hour and a half after its deployment. Information from BATSAT should be received about nine hours after launch at Orbital's satellite ground control station at the company's Dulles, Virginia, headquarters.
The SNOE spacecraft and its instruments were designed and built by a student team at the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics under the Student Explorer Demonstration Initiative (STEDI) program, which is funded by NASA and managed by the Universities Space Research Association. The 254 pound SNOE satellite will investigate the effects of energy from the sun and the magnetosphere on the density of nitric oxide in the Earth's upper atmosphere. The extreme variability of nitric oxide may be important to ozone chemistry in the middle atmosphere as well.
BATSAT is a 154 pound commercial communications satellite based on Orbital's MicroStar(TM) spacecraft platform. Originally developed to meet the cost and schedule requirements of the ORBCOMM communications system, the disc-shaped MicroStar has served as the basis for 11 satellites that are on orbit and operating successfully today. The latest MicroStar launch occurred in December 1997, when eight ORBCOMM satellites were deployed into their target orbit by Pegasus. Almost 30 more MicroStar satellites are now in production for ORBCOMM and other programs.
Orbital's Pegasus rocket is the world's leading launch system for the deployment of small satellites into low-Earth orbit. The first of eight missions scheduled for 1998, the SNOE/BATSAT launch represents the 20th Pegasus mission since the rocket's debut in 1990.
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