NASA aborts Stargazer's launch of CYGNSS due to hydraulic issue

By Jerry Hume and Anthony Leone, Team Coverage
Last Updated: Monday, December 12, 2016, 6:23 PM EST

NASA aborted its two launch attempts Monday of hurricane-studying satellites due to problems with a hydraulic release mechanism.

The launch of the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System spacecraft (CYGNSS) was scrubbed due to a problem with a hydraulic pump that releases the rocket, NASA stated in a tweet.

At 49,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean and just 110 miles from Daytona Beach, Stargazer was supposed to release Pegasus. The Stargazer is the name of the plane that carries the rocket.

Monday's launch window was from 8:19 a.m. to 9:19 a.m. The target launch time was supposed to be 8:30 a.m., but it was pushed back to 9:05 a.m. due to a hydraulic issue and weather concerns. It was then canceled.  

Orbital ATK announced Monday that the next launch attempt of the Pegasus rocket will no earlier than Dec. 14, with a launch window of 8:20 a.m. to 9:20 a.m. 

This additional time will allow for a replacement L-1011 carrier aircraft component to arrive from Mojave, California, and be installed.


The Stargazer releases the Pegasus rocket during a test.

 

NASA has contracted Orbital ATK to use its L-1011 carrier aircraft, also known as Stargazer. The Pegasus XL launch vehicle is attached to the bottom of Stargazer.

The aircraft took off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and flew northeast over the Atlantic Ocean.

If things went according to plan, Stargazer was supposed to release the Pegasus rocket, which will then be launched into orbit. The rocket will carry eight small satellites into orbit.

Together, they make up the CYGNSS.

Their job is to study hurricanes and peering into the middle of the storms to predict how strong they’ll be and when they’ll make landfall.

 

“It’s going to be focusing on the surface winds, which is the area of highest dynamic energy in a hurricane which helps influence how intense the hurricane is going to be,” said NASA’s Christine Bonniksen.

Scientists will have six months to make sure all the measurements are performing normally before the next hurricane season.

The last time a rocket like this launched from Florida was in 2003.

The rocket was supposed to drop 110 miles east of Daytona Beach.

 

Live Blog Stargazer to launch CYGNSS