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NASA's Launch Blog - AIM Mission
December 11, 2007
Activated: April 25, 2007 from 12 p.m. to 1:55 p.m. PDT
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Video highlights from today's countdown are selected from televised coverage
provided by NASA TV.
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The Launch Blog will be activated at 12:00 p.m. PDT on April 25, 2007.

-> 1:55 p.m. - This concludes today's coverage of the launch of the AIM spacecraft aboard an Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL rocket. Thank you for joining us! For mission status and updates, visit the AIM Web site.

1:50 p.m. - "The flight appears good," confirms NASA Launch Manager Omar Baez. "The spacecraft is 'power positive,' the solar arrays have started deploying, and they're in the right place. You can't call it any better than that."

Baez also pointed out that the AIM launch marks the 50th launch by NASA's Launch Services Program, which began in 1998.

1:42 p.m. - The Tracking and Data Relay Satellite is receiving the signal from the AIM spacecraft. Right now the spacecraft team is in the process of determining the spacecraft's state of health, according to NASA Launch Commentator George Diller.

1:39 p.m. - The Stargazer carrier aircraft is due to arrive back at Vandenberg in about 15 minutes after a successful flight this afternoon.

Did You Know?
Pegasus has launched from sites in California, Virginia, Florida, the Canary Islands in Spain and the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

1:36 p.m. - Spacecraft separation! The AIM spacecraft has separated from the third stage of the Pegasus rocket that delivered it to orbit. Launch and mission managers are applauding the separation.

After a smooth countdown and climb to space, NASA's AIM spacecraft is in orbit, beginning a two-year mission to study Earth's mysterious night-glowing clouds.

1:34 p.m. - The vehicle is in orbit! The third-stage motor has burned out, and Pegasus and AIM have started a final coast phase. Stand by for AIM spacecraft separation in two minutes.

1:33 p.m. - Nearly seven minutes into the flight of the Pegasus rocket, the first coast phase has ended with the jettison of the second stage and ignition of the third stage. In a little over three minutes, the AIM spacecraft will be on its own in orbit!

1:28 p.m. - More than two minutes into flight, the payload fairing has separated, revealing the AIM spacecraft poised to begin its mission in just a few minutes. The Pegasus rocket's second-stage motor has burned out. The first coast phase is under way, and will last about four minutes. The flight is proceeding very well according to Pegasus Launch Vehicle Engineer Rick Haenke. Solar arrays are reporting they're picking up sunlight.

1:27 p.m. - The Pegasus rocket's first-stage motor has burned out and separated from the second stage, and the second-stage motor is up and burning.

1:26 p.m. - Three, two, one, drop - and Pegasus is away! Stand by for first-stage motor ignition in about five seconds.

And we have ignition of the Pegasus rocket with the spacecraft AIM, for clues about the mystery of Earth's highest clouds at the edge of space.

The first-stage motor will burn for just over a minute.

1:24 p.m. - Stargazer is go to aquire the launch heading.

1:23 p.m. - L-3 minutes and counting. The SIGI guidance computer aboard the Pegasus rocket is configured for flight.

1:22 p.m. - The Stargazer carrier aircraft is in the drop box!

1:21 p.m. - With five minutes remaining until the scheduled drop and launch of the Pegasus, Launch Conductor Adam Lewis is polling his team for a final "go/no-go" decision. "Launch team is go to proceed with final checklist at L-4," Lewis reports.

1:18 p.m. - NASA Launch Manager Omar Baez is conducting a prelaunch poll, and all team members are giving the "go."

1:17 p.m. - Weather is good for launch today, reports Launch Weather Officer Capt. Damon Vorhees.

1:13 p.m. - In a routine procedure, the flight termination system aboard the Pegasus has been switched to internal power. This system provides a way for safety officials to destroy the rocket in the event of an emergency.

1:06 p.m. - The aircraft has reached launch altitude - 39,000 feet - and is turning toward the northeast, heading into a 180-degree course reversal. This waypoint is known as "P-Turn." When the turn is complete a few minutes from now, Stargazer and Pegasus will be headed straight toward the drop box.

12:54 p.m. - Stargazer is passing the "P-Power" waypoint and turning north, which will bring the aircraft directly below the drop point on its way into the racetrack pattern. Current altitude is about 33,000 feet.

12:43 p.m. - About 15 minutes into captive carry, Stargazer is passing "P-Climb," the first waypoint on today's flight path. P-Climb marks the climb-out segment. The aircraft is turning northwest and picking up altitude, flying at about 28,000 feet.

12:28 p.m. - Wheels up! Takeoff of the Stargazer carrier aircraft. NASA's AIM spacecraft, sealed safely inside the Pegasus XL rocket, is off the ground and one step closer to launch. A NASA F-18 chase plane took off shortly after the L-1011. The chase plane will fly near the L-1011 to allow a visual inspection of the Pegasus shortly before it is released.

The carrier aircraft will travel through a series of waypoints as it enters an oblong "racetrack pattern" flight path. When Stargazer reaches the drop point, the Pegasus will be released from the aircraft to launch a few seconds later.

12:25 p.m. - It's nearly takeoff time for the L-1011 carrier aircraft. Lewis is conducting a final poll - and Stargazer is go for takeoff! Stand by - the aircraft will start its roll in about three minutes.

12:20 p.m. - NASA Launch Manager Omar Baez is polling the launch team to verify everything is in order for takeoff, and all team members are reporting "go." The final go-ahead for takeoff will come in a few minutes, following a poll by Launch Conductor Adam Lewis.

Did You Know?
At drop time, the L-1011 carrier aircraft is traveling at a speed between 560-610 miles per hour.

12:05 p.m. - Launch Conductor Adam Lewis has confirmed that there are no issues expected to prevent the on-time takeoff of the Stargazer carrier aircraft at 12:28 p.m. The aircraft is already at the end of runway 30 and controllers are moving through the pre-takeoff checklist.

12:01 p.m. - Stargazer is on the move, leaving the Hot Pad and taxiing to takeoff position. Stand by for pre-takeoff polls by Launch Conductor Adam Lewis and NASA Launch Manager Omar Baez.

12:00 p.m. - Good afternoon, and welcome to our coverage of the launch of NASA's AIM spacecraft aboard an Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL rocket. Today's launch is set for 1:26 p.m., although the window extends from 1:23 to 1:30 p.m. The Pegasus is attached to the underside of the "Stargazer" L-1011 carrier aircraft, which is on the runway Hot Pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The Hot Pad is the location on the ramp where the rocket was mated to the carrier aircraft on Saturday. Ground controllers are moving through the pre-takeoff checklist and the countdown is running smoothly so far, with no technical or weather concerns. The countdown clock is at L-1:25 and counting, and takeoff is about half an hour away at 12:28 p.m.

The captive-carry portion of the flight - the period when the Stargazer carrier aircraft is airborne with the Pegasus rocket attached - will last a little over an hour. During that time, the aircraft will gain altitude while following a flight path leading into the "drop box," an area about 10 miles wide by 40 miles long. Once inside the drop box, the Pegasus rocket will be released from the carrier aircraft at a specific drop point over the Pacific Ocean, about 100 miles offshore west-southwest of Point Sur, Calif.

For an overview of the typical Pegasus countdown, check out Pegasus Countdown 101.

Launch Blog Team
Live Updates/Layout
Anna Heiney (InDyne, Inc.)
Quality Control/Publishing
Cheryl L. Mansfield (InDyne, Inc.)
Video Uploads/Captions
Elaine Marconi (InDyne, Inc.)
AIM Home Updates
Steven Siceloff (InDyne, Inc.)
Video Production
Aly Lee (InDyne, Inc.)
Video Capture/Editing
Chris Chamberland, Michael Chambers,
Chris Rhodes and Gianni Woods (InDyne, Inc.)
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Page Last Updated: April 17th, 2014
Page Editor: NASA Administrator