NASA successfully launches CYGNSS

By Anthony Leone and Jerry Hume, Team Coverage
Last Updated: Thursday, December 15, 2016, 9:48 AM EST

Despite a number of setbacks, the CYGNSS was successfully launched on Thursday morning.

At around 8:35 a.m., the hurricane-forecasting spacecraft was successfully set off to make its way into space. And this comes as good news, because the mission faced several failed attempts this week.

There were two aborted launch attempts on Monday because of problems with a hydraulic release mechanism and NASA and Orbital ATK delayed another try to release the hurricane-tracking satellites on Wednesday because of incorrect flight parameter data programed into the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System spacecraft, or better known as CYGNSS.

NASA spent Wednesday fixing the issue, which was resolved.

But Thursday's launch was a happy moment for not just NASA, but for meteorologists as well. The satellites are designed to study hurricanes and peer into the middle of the storms to predict how strong they will be and when they might make landfall. That information will then be sent back down to meteorologists here on Earth.

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

Now that Stargazer has released the Pegasus rocket at 39,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean, the rocket is on its way to orbit. The rocket will carry eight small satellites into orbit.

Live Blog Stargazer to launch CYGNSS