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AIM is a two-year mission to study Polar Mesospheric Clouds, the Earth's highest clouds, which form an icy membrane 50 miles above the surface at the edge of space.

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Drop... and Launch!Countdown 101 - Pegasus
+ NASA Home > Mission Sections > AIM Mission > Launch

 Launch of AIM Aboard a Pegasus XL Rocket

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

Takeoff of the L-1011 carrier aircraft
Image above: 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 the "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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 The Pegasus rocket is successfully dropped and launched.
Preparing and Launching AIM
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NASA Official: Brian Dunbar
Last Updated: June 4, 2007
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