Launch of AIM Aboard a Pegasus XL Rocket
NASA's Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere spacecraft was delivered into orbit from a Pegasus XL rocket. AIM's three scientific instruments will study polar mesospheric clouds located at the edge of space, 50 miles above the Earth's surface in the coldest part of the planet's atmosphere.
Spacecraft: Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM)
Launch Vehicle: Orbital Sciences XL Rocket
Launch Location: Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
Launch Date: April 25, 2007
Launch Time: 1:26 p.m. PDT
Image left: Takeoff of the L-1011 carrier aircraft, Stargazer, with the Pegasus XL rocket and NASA's AIM spacecraft. Image credit: NASA
Air-Launched Pegasus Sends AIM on Its Way
After a flawless countdown and flight, NASA's AIM spacecraft began its two-year mission to study Earth's highest clouds. The 430-pound satellite's ride into orbit was provided by a Pegasus XL rocket. Built by Orbital Sciences, the Pegasus is a unique vehicle that begins its flight secured to the underbelly of a modified L-1011 passenger jet known as "Stargazer." Once the L-1011 reached an altitude of 39,000 feet, the Pegasus was released for its 10-minute powered flight into space.
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