Kennedy News

Nancy Neal
NASA Headquarters

George H. Diller
Kennedy Space Center
(321) 867-2468

Jane Platt
Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Barron Beneski
Orbital Sciences Corporation

April 21, 2003
RELEASE : 31-03
Note to Editors/News Directors:
GALEX Spacecraft To Be Launched Aboard Pegasus XL April 28
The launch of NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) spacecraft aboard an Orbital Sciences Corporation (OSC) air-launched Pegasus vehicle is scheduled for deployment over the Atlantic Ocean from OSC’s L-1011 carrier aircraft on Monday, April 28 at 8 a.m. EDT. This time is contained within a launch window that opens at 7:50 a.m. and closes at 9:50 a.m. EDT.

The launch begins with the drop of the Pegasus rocket from the L-1011 over the Atlantic Ocean at an altitude of 39,000 feet at a location approximately 100 nautical miles offshore east-northeast of Cape Canaveral. The launch is expected to be visible from the coast. Spacecraft separation from the Pegasus occurs 11 minutes later. At that time the satellite will be in a circular orbit of 431 statute miles (690 km) at a 29-degree inclination.

GALEX will observe a million galaxies across 10 billion years of cosmic history to help astronomers determine when the stars and galaxies we see today had their origins. During the course of its two-year investigation, GALEX will conduct the first ultraviolet surveys of the entire extragalactic sky, including the first wide-area spectroscopic surveys. This vast data archive will form a lasting legacy. Rich in objects from galaxies to quasars to white dwarf stars, it will serve as a resource for the entire astronomical community.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is responsible for the project management of GALEX and built the telescopic instrument. Orbital Sciences Corporation built the spacecraft bus and is responsible for instrument integration. The California Institute of Technology is responsible for the science operations and astronomical data. The Kennedy Space Center is responsible for spacecraft/launch vehicle integration, countdown management, launch vehicle engineering oversight and mission assurance.


The prelaunch news conference is scheduled for Friday, April 25 at 1 p.m. EDT at the NASA-KSC News Center. Participating in the briefing will be:

Charles Dovale, NASA launch director
John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Bryan Baldwin, Pegasus launch vehicle program manager
Orbital Sciences Corporation, Dulles, Virginia

Dr. James Fanson, GALEX project manager
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

James Sardonia, launch weather officer
45th Weather Squadron, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station


Dr. Richard Fisher, director of Sun-Earth Connection division
NASA Headquarters, Washington

Dr. Christopher Martin, GALEX principal investigator
California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif.

Dr. Susan Neff, GALEX mission scientist
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.


Media needing accreditation should apply written on news organization letterhead and addressed to NASA Press Accreditations and faxed to 321-867-2692. Please include full name, Social Security number, birth date, birth location and citizenship. For media needing badges, all requests for launch day accreditation must be received by the close of business Friday, April 25.


On launch day, April 28, media representatives will depart to cover the launch at 6:15 a.m. by government-furnished transportation from the Pass & Identification Building at Gate 3 on SR 405, east of U.S. 1 south of Titusville. Media will be taken to the Skid Strip runway on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to view the take-off of the L-1011. 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/GALEX. Media may choose instead to go to the NASA-KSC News Center 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 if they so request.


This Pegasus launch occurs with a chase plane equipped with a television camera. There will be live coverage on NASA Television beginning at 6:30 a.m. EDT and will conclude shortly after spacecraft separation which occurs 11 minutes after launch. Commentary and audio of all Pegasus/GALEX briefings will be available on the “V” audio circuits which may be dialed directly at 321/867- 1220, 1240, 1260, 7135.

The Pegasus/GALEX prelaunch press conference and mission science briefing will be televised at 1 p.m. on Friday, April 25. Launch coverage begins at 6:30 a.m. on Monday, April 28.

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


On Friday, April 25, the Pegasus/GALEX News Center at NASA-KSC may be reached at 321-867-2468 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. EDT. On launch day, the NASA-KSC News Center will open at 7 a.m.


A recorded status report will be available beginning Friday, April 25, and may be reached at 321-867-2525. It is recommended that media check the status during the weekend to be certain plans for the launch have not changed.

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