Kennedy News

Dolores Beasley
NASA Headquarters

George H. Diller
Kennedy Space Center

Susan Hendrix
Goddard Space Flight Center

Barron Beneski
Orbital Sciences Corporation

Jan. 31, 2002
RELEASE : 05-02
Note to Editors/News Directors:
HESSI Spacecraft To Be Launched Feb. 5
The launch of NASA's High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (HESSI) spacecraft aboard an Orbital Sciences Corporation air-launched Pegasus vehicle is currently scheduled for deployment from the company's L-1011 carrier aircraft on Tuesday, Feb. 5 at 3:26 p.m. EST. This time is contained within a launch window that opens at 3:21 p.m. and closes at 5:21 p.m. EST.

The launch begins with the drop of the Pegasus from the L-1011 over the Atlantic Ocean at an altitude of 39,000 feet at a location approximately 100 miles offshore east-southeast from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The launch is expected to be visible from the coast. Spacecraft separation from the Pegasus occurs approximately 9 1/2 minutes later. At that time HESSI will be in 373 mile-high (600 kilometer) orbit.

HESSI will study solar fares, the solar system's mightiest explosions in the atmosphere of the Sun. It will use a unique kind of X-ray vision that will reveal for the first time how flares can pack a punch up to the equivalent of a billion megatons of TNT.

HESSI's unprecedented ability to make images of solar flares in X-rays and gamma rays will enable scientists for the first time to track accelerated flare particles, exploring the sudden energy release in a way never before possible.

HESSI will finally unlock the secrets of a solar flare's initiation and onset by producing unprecedented high-fidelity movies in their highest energy emission. This kind of data is vital to scientists because it will improve their predictability of flare occurrence on the Sun and the subsequent consequences we experience here on Earth. Using the Sun as a "laboratory," where such high-energy events take place, will provide researchers insight into interpreting similar high-energy activity that originate elsewhere in the universe.


The prelaunch news conference to be carried live on NASA Television is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 4 at 2 p.m. EST at the NASA-KSC News Center. Participating in the briefing will be:

Omar Baez, NASA Launch Manager
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Bryan Baldwin, Pegasus Launch Vehicle Program Manager
Orbital Sciences Corporation

Frank Snow, HESSI Project Manager
Goddard Space Flight Center, Md.

Jim Sardonia, Launch Weather Officer, USAF 45th Weather Squadron
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

Immediately following the prelaunch news conference, a HESSI mission science briefing will be held which will also be carried live on NASA Television. Participating in the briefing will be:

Robert Lin, Principal Investigator
University of California at Berkeley, Calif.

Brian Dennis, HESSI Mission Scientist
Goddard Space Flight Center, Md.

George Withbroe, Sun-Earth Connection Program Manager
NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.


On Monday, Feb. 4, at 10:30 a.m. a bus will depart from the NASA-KSC press site and from KSC Gate 3 in Titusville for Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. At the Skid Strip runway, there will be a photo opportunity of the integrated Pegasus/HESSI vehicle and a tour of the L-1011 aircraft by representatives of Orbital Sciences.


Media needing accreditation should apply on news organization letterhead addressed to NASA Press Accreditations and faxed to 321/867-2692. Please include full name, Social Security number and birth date.

Pegasus/HESSI access badges will be issued on Monday, Feb. 4 and Tuesday, Feb. 5. Please note that there will be no access through Gate 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for any of the planned Pegasus/HESSI activities. All planned badging and access will be via Gate 3 on State Road 405 east of U.S. 1 south of Titusville.


On launch day, Feb. 5, media representatives will depart from the NASA-KSC Press Site and Gate 3 to be bussed to the Skid Strip runway for the take-off of the L-1011. The busses will depart from Gate 3 and the NASA-KSC News Center at 1:30 p.m. After aircraft departure, media will be taken to the viewing room of the NASA Mission Director's Center located in Hangar AE on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. From there, media may follow the deployment and launch of Pegasus/HESSI. Media may also return to the NASA-KSC News Center if they choose to follow progress of the flight.

Assuming a nominal flight of the Pegasus launch vehicle, a post-launch news conference will not be held. However, launch vehicle and spacecraft representatives will be available afterward at Hangar AE to informally answer questions from the media. Media who have elected to return to the Press Site will be able to teleconference from the News Center conference room.


Because this Pegasus launch occurs with a chase plane equipped with a television camera there will be live coverage on NASA Television beginning at 2 p.m. EST and will conclude after spacecraft separation. Launch commentary and audio of all Pegasus/HESSI briefings will be available on the "V" audio circuits which may be dialed directly at 321/867- 1220, 1240, 1260, 7135.

The Pegasus/HESSI prelaunch news conference will begin at 2 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 4 and will be followed immediately by a mission science briefing. On launch day, Tuesday, Feb. 5, launch coverage begins on NASA Television at 2 p.m. EST.

NASA Television is available on GE-2, Transponder 9C, located at 85 degrees West longitude. These activities will also be webcast and accessed through the KSC Home Page at

The arrival of the L-1011 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Friday afternoon, Feb. 1, will not be on NASA Television. However, this event will be webcast.


The Pegasus/HESSI News Center at NASA-KSC may be reached at 321/867-2468 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. EST. A recorded status report is also available by dialing 321/867-2525.

The Explorer Program Office at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center provides management and technical oversight for this mission. The University of California, Berkeley - principal investigator institution- has responsibility for most aspects of the mission, including the instrument and spacecraft, integration and environmental testing, and operations and data analysis after launch. The imaging spectrometer aboard HESSI is a collaborative effort involving the University of California at Berkeley, Goddard, the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The mission will also involve scientific participation from Japan and France. Spectrum Astro, Inc. built the spacecraft. NASA's Kennedy Space Center is responsible for the countdown management and launch vehicle oversight.


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