Suggested Searches

7 min read

NASA Schedules News Media Events for IRIS Launch

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) mission is scheduled to launch Wednesday, June 26, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on an Orbital Sciences Corp. Pegasus XL rocket. Launch is targeted for 7:27 p.m. PDT (10:27 p.m. EDT) in the middle of a five-minute launch window.

The drop of the Pegasus from Orbital’s L-1011 carrier aircraft will occur over the Pacific Ocean at an altitude of 39,000 feet, approximately 100 miles northwest of Vandenberg off the central coast of California, south of Big Sur. The Pegasus will be deployed from the L-1011 on a southerly launch azimuth of 198.6 degrees. The rocket will place IRIS into a sun-synchronous polar orbit of 387.5 by 418.7 miles (620 by 670 km) at an inclination of 97.89 degrees.

IRIS is a NASA Small Explorer Mission to observe how solar material moves, gathers energy and heats up as it travels through a little-understood region in the sun’s lower atmosphere. This interface region between the sun’s photosphere and corona powers its dynamic million-degree atmosphere and drives the solar wind. The interface region also is where most of the sun’s ultraviolet emission is generated that impacts the near-Earth space environment and Earth’s climate.


News media desiring accreditation for the prelaunch and launch activities for IRIS should fax their requests on news organization letterhead to:

2nd Lt. Kaylee Ausbun
30th Space Wing Public Affairs Office
Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
Telephone: 805-606-3595
Fax: 805-606-4571

Information required for U.S. media includes full legal name, date of birth and media affiliation. A valid legal photo identification will be required upon arrival at Vandenberg.


Tuesday, June 25: NASA will host a prelaunch news conference and mission briefing scheduled to begin at noon PDT (3 p.m. EDT) in the second-floor conference room of the NASA Vandenberg Resident Office, Building 840, at Vandenberg Air Force Base. NASA Television will air the briefing live with question-and-answer capability available from other NASA field centers. Media also can ask questions via Twitter by using the hashtag #askNASA during the briefings.

Participating in the prelaunch news conference will be:

– Geoffrey Yoder, Deputy Associate Administrator for Programs, Science Mission Directorate
NASA Headquarters, Washington
– Tim Dunn, NASA Launch Director/NASA Launch Manager
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
– Bryan Baldwin, Pegasus Launch Vehicle Program Director
Orbital Sciences Corp., Dulles, Va.
– Gary Kushner, IRIS Project Manager
Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory, Palo Alto, Calif.
– Maj. Erin Willingham, Launch Weather Officer
U.S. Air Force 30th Weather Squadron, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.


The IRIS mission briefing will immediately follow the prelaunch news conference. Participants will include:

– Jeffrey Newmark, IRIS Program Scientist
NASA Headquarters, Washington
– Alan Title, IRIS Principal Investigator, Lockheed Martin
Advanced Technology Center Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory

Following the two briefings, news media will be taken to the Vandenberg Air Force Base runway to see the Orbital Sciences L-1011 carrier aircraft with the Pegasus/IRIS rocket ready for launch. Spokespersons will be on hand to answer questions and for interviews. News media will be permitted to board the aircraft.


Tuesday, June 25: News media desiring to cover the IRIS prelaunch news conference and mission science briefing should meet at the south gate of Vandenberg Air Force Base on California State Road 246 west of Lompoc at 11:30 a.m. PDT for an escort to the NASA Vandenberg Resident Office in Building 840. After the briefings end at approximately 1:30 p.m., media who desire to see the Pegasus with IRIS and tour Orbital’s L-1011 “Stargazer” carrier aircraft will be taken to the Vandenberg Air Force Base runway.

Wednesday, June 26: News media representatives should meet at the Vandenberg main gate at 5:45 p.m. PDT to be escorted to the Vandenberg Air Force Base runway to view the departure of the L-1011 aircraft at 6:27 p.m. Media then will be taken to the second-floor conference room of the NASA Resident Office in Building 840 on South Vandenberg Air Force Base. From there, media may follow the flight and launch of Pegasus/IRIS.

A post-launch news conference will not be held.


Live coverage on NASA Television of the IRIS launch will begin at 6 p.m. PDT (9 p.m. EDT) June 26. There will be live TV coverage of the L-1011 departure at 6:27 p.m., as well as the deployment of the Pegasus XL from the L-1011 carrier aircraft at approximately 7:27 p.m. PDT (10:27 p.m. EDT). Spacecraft separation from the Pegasus vehicle occurs 13 minutes after launch. Live audio of the launch coverage and the Pegasus/IRIS briefings will be available on the “V” circuits at 321-867-1220, -1240, and -1260.

For NASA TV launch coverage information and schedules on the Internet, visit:

For information on receiving NASA TV, visit:


Audio only of the news conference and the launch coverage will be carried on the NASA “V” circuits, which may be accessed by dialing 321-867-1220, -1240 or -1260. On launch day, “mission audio,” the launch conductor’s countdown activities and communication with the aircraft without NASA TV launch commentary, will be carried on 321-867-7135 starting at 5:30 p.m. PDT (8:30 p.m. EDT).


Extensive prelaunch and launch day coverage of the IRIS spacecraft aboard a Pegasus XL rocket will be available on NASA’s home page at:

A prelaunch webcast for the IRIS mission will be streamed on NASA’s website at 9 a.m. PDT (noon EDT) Tuesday, June 25. Live countdown coverage through NASA’s Launch Blog begins at 6 p.m. PDT (9 p.m. EDT) on Wednesday, June 26. Coverage features live updates as countdown milestones occur, as well as streaming video clips highlighting launch preparations and the launch. A launch highlight podcast will be posted approximately 30 minutes after launch. For questions about countdown coverage, contact Nancy Bray at 321-867-9112.

To view the webcast and the blog or to learn more about the IRIS mission, visit:


NASA also will host a Google+ Hangout at 1:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday, June 25, on the IRIS mission. Social media followers may submit questions on Twitter and Google+ in advance and during the event using the hashtag #askNASA.

Before the hangout begins, NASA will open a thread on its Facebook page where questions may be posted. The hangout can be viewed live on NASA’s Google+ page, the NASA Television YouTube channel or NASA TV. For more information and to join the hangout, visit:


The IRIS News Center at Kennedy’s Vandenberg Resident Office will be staffed starting June 24 and may be reached between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. PDT at 805-605-3051. A recorded status report also will be available at that time at 805-734-2693. The U.S. Air Force 30th Space Wing Public Affairs Office may be reached at 805-606-3595.

NASA’s Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for launch vehicle/spacecraft integration and launch countdown management. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., is responsible for the Small Explorers Program. NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., is responsible for mission operations and ground data systems. Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Technology Center Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory in Palo Alto, Calif., designed and built the IRIS spacecraft and instrument. Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., is responsible for providing the Pegasus XL launch service to NASA. 

– end –

George Diller
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
Susan Hendrix
Goddard Space Flight Center, Md.
Rachel Hoover
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.