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ST5 Launch Day Events
The Virtual Launch Control Center was activated March 22, 2006 at 7:30 a.m. EST.

The Virtual Launch Control Center was deactivated March 22, 2006 at 9:20 a.m. EST.

+ View Launch Day Videos

+ View first launch attempt - March 15, 2006

9:20 a.m. - Aft payload separation! The third ST5 spacecraft is on its own in space, and the launch team is cheering in celebration of a good separation of the three spacecraft.

9:17 a.m. - Mid payload separation! "Two out of three," says NASA Commentator George Diller. The vehicle is beginning its third thermal roll as we await separation of the third and final micro-sat.

9:15 a.m. - Vehicle attitude continues to be nominal as NASA awaits separation of the second ST5 micro-sat.

9:14 a.m. - Payload separation! The first of the three micro-sats has been deployed. The remaining two will deploy about three minutes apart.

9:13 a.m. - The vehicle attitude is nominal; standing by for spacecraft separation.

9:11 a.m. - Telemetry is being received by an aircraft flying over the Pacific Ocean.

9:10 a.m. - At L+6 minutes, vehicle attitude remains nominal. Stage 3 burnout is complete and the vehicle is in orbit! Pegasus has begun a slow roll to avoid overheating from constant exposure to the sun.

9:09 a.m. - Stage 3 burn altitude is acquired and ready. Stage 3 has ignited; this burn will last approximately 70 seconds.

9:08 a.m. - Pegasus has started the reorienting maneuver for the Stage 3 burn.

9:07 a.m. - Stage 2 has burned out as expected. Pegasus is coasting up to an altitude of 186 miles, and the vehicle is past 120 miles altitude at this point.

9:06 a.m. - Fairing separation, and power bus is nominal.

9:05 a.m. - At T+66 seconds the Pegasus vehicle is performing nominally. Stage one burnout... stage two ignition. The vehicle has past 50 miles in altitude.

9:03 a.m. - And Pegasus is away! Standing by for ignition. ...And we have ignition of the Pegasus rocket with ST5, to demonstrate that good science can come in small packages.

Today's official launch time is 9:03:45 a.m. EST.

9:02 a.m. - The pilot has been given the "go" to acquire launch heading.

9:01 a.m. - The L-1011 is in the drop box! Standing by for the drop!

8:59 a.m. - LC Lewis is performing the final launch readiness poll. The team is go to proceed with final checklist at L-4.

Did you know?
Scientists anticipate that the data collected from the ST5 constellation will help them understand and map the intensity and direction of the magnetic field, its relation to space weather events, and the effects on our planet.

8:56 a.m. - NLM Chuck Dovale has conducted a final poll, and the team is ready for launch! Go for avionics internal power.

8:55 a.m. - The launch conductor reports that the launch window is "go," and the Launch Weather Officer reports that weather is "green," meaning favorable.

8:53 a.m. - T-10 minutes and counting. "There are no issues being tracked in the countdown," NASA Launch Commentator George Diller reports.

8:49 a.m. - LC Lewis is polling for FTS checks, and the team is go.

8:48 a.m. - The Flight Termination System is now on internal power.

8:47 a.m. - At T-15 minutes and 57 seconds and counting, the release mechanism has been armed. LC Adam Lewis reports the launch team is "go" for internal power.

8:42 a.m. - The L-1011 has passed P-Turn as it is flying the "racetrack" pattern. The dimensions of the drop box are only 40 miles long by 10 miles wide. At the time of the drop, the L-1011 will be flying between 560 and 610 miles per hour at about 39,000 feet. The Pegasus will have a five-second delay before it fires and will then be about one thousand feet below the L-1011 when it fires up.

8:40 a.m. - The aircraft is now at an altitude of 38,000 feet. It will soon be approaching the wide u-turn to take it into a southerly position and back into the drop box.

8:35 a.m. - The climb/cruise checkist is now complete and the L-1011 is in the drop box!

Did you know?
The micro-sats will be positioned in a "string of pearls" constellation that demonstrates the ability to position the micro-stats to perform simultaneous multi-point measurements of the magnetic field using highly sensitive magnetometers.

8:28 a.m. - LC Adam Lewis has announced that the team should be expecting waypoint P-Power in about five minutes. At P-Power, the L-1011 carrier aircraft heads north, underflying the drop point.

8:27 a.m. - T-34 minutes and counting until "drop" of the Pegasus rocket.

8:20 a.m. - The L-1011 carrier aircraft is now at P-Climb, the point at which the plane will turn to the right at an altitude of 28,000 feet.

Did you know?
The three ST5 micro satellites are in a "stacked" configuration on a launch rack in the Pegasus XL rocket. This multi-rack design will allow each micro-sat to be individually deployed in a spinning motion.

8:04 a.m. - And the Stargazer is airborne right on time! Now 58 minutes until the launch of ST5. Beginning the climb/cruise checklist.

8:03 a.m. - "The airplane is rolling," says NASA Launch Commentator George Diller.

8:00 a.m. - LC Adam Lewis has confirmed that this morning's takeoff time is 8:04 a.m. and he's now polling his team. And the launch team is "go" for takeoff, and Pilot Don Moor has confirmed.

7:57 a.m. - NLM Chuck Dovale has polled the launch team, and they are go for takeoff!

7:49 a.m. - Launch Conductor Adam Lewis reports that taxi is complete -- Stargazer is poised for takeoff! The team is beginning the pre-take off checklist. In just about 5 minutes, they'll poll to proceed toward takeoff, which will be in a westerly direction this morning.

7:42 a.m. - It's only 4:42 a.m. in California, and in the early-morning darkness, the Orbital Sciences carrier aircraft is taxiing to the end of Runway 30 in preparation for takeoff in just over 20 minutes.

7:35 a.m. - The pre-taxi checklist is complete and the L-1011 is ready for taxi. Pilot Don Moor is waiting to receive clearance to taxi from the control tower.

7:30 a.m. - Good morning, and thanks for joining our coverage of today's launch of the ST5 spacecraft from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Orbital Sciences' Pegasus launch vehicle will be carrying ST5's three small satellites into orbit. The L-1011 carrier aircraft, called Stargazer, is on the hot pad at the runway and preparing for departure at 8:04 a.m. Launch, or "drop," is set for 9:02 a.m.

6:42 a.m. - Inspections of the ST5 spacecraft and Pegasus launch vehicle are continuing. This is a normal pre-launch activity.

6:23 a.m. - Orbital Sciences Launch Conductor Adam Lewis is performing the countdown net voice check, confirming audio between himself and all launch team participants. This is a mandatory part of the launch requirements.

6:20 a.m. - NASA Launch Manager Chuck Dovale is polling the team for engine start. And the team is go for engine start.

Virtual Launch Control Center Team
Page Content: Lynda Warnock (InDyne, Inc.)
Live Updates/Layout: Anna Heiney (InDyne, Inc.)
Video Uploads/Captions: Elaine Marconi and Charlie Plain (InDyne, Inc.)
Quality Control/Publishing: Cheryl Mansfield (InDyne, Inc.)
Video Production:Maureen Mulholland (InDyne, Inc.)
Video Capture/Editing: Chris Rhodes and Michael Chambers (InDyne, Inc.)
Video QC/Oversight: Dennis Armstrong (NASA)