WIRE Launch on Schedule for not earlier than March 1, 1999.
WIRE is the next mission on the Pegasus XL manifest, and is on schedule for launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base near dusk on March 1, 1999. The WIRE spacecraft arrived at VAFB on January 18, 1999, and is undergoing final preparations for launch. See the latest spacecraft and launch information at GSFC's WIRE Latest Info page.
The three-stage Pegasus launch vehicle is carried aloft by OSC's L-1011 Stargazer aircraft to approximately 40,000 feet over open ocean. It is then released and free-falls for five seconds before igniting its first stage rocket motor.
The launch will take place at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Once launched, the WIRE mission is expected to last a minimum of four months.
The Pegasus XL generates over 163,000 foot-pounds of thrust in its first stage. With this thrust, and the aerodynamic lift generated by its delta wing, the small rocket achieves orbit hundreds of miles above the Earth in approximately ten minutes.
The 250-kilogram (550 pound) WIRE observatory will then be inserted into an orbit with an altitude of 540 kilometers (336 miles) above the Earth and inclined 97.55 degrees to the equator. NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and a NASA-developed Transportable Orbital Tracking Station (TOTS) placed at Poker Flat, Alaska, will serve as the primary ground stations.
Last Updated: 1/20/99