Home- Stories -Northrop Grumman’s Pegasus Rocket Launches U.S. Space Force Mission

Northrop Grumman’s Pegasus Rocket Launches U.S. Space Force Mission

Arun Sivasankaran - : Jun 14, 2021 - : 11:27 am

A  secretive United States Space Force (USSF) satellite was successfully launched by a Northrop Grumman rocket on Sunday to obtain the objective of “space domain awareness,” or detecting artificial objects in orbit.

A Northrop Grumman L-1011 carrier aircraft took off from the Vandenberg Space Force Base and flew out over the Pacific Ocean, where it launched the a solid fuel Pegasus XL rocket carrying the new satellite at 4:11 a.m. EDT (1:11 a.m. PDT/0811 GMT).

The mission is called Tactically Responsive Launch-2 (TacRL-2). The USSF’s tactically responsive launch concept seeks to introduce speed, agility, and flexibility into the launch enterprise in order to respond to dynamic changes in the space domain or an operational theater and insert or replace assets on orbit much faster than standard timelines to meet emerging combatant command requirements

“Team V successfully launched the Tactically Responsive Launch-2 mission. A demonstration of a speed, agility, and flexibility in space launch,” Vandenberg officials said in a statement. “Showing that space assets can be placed in orbit faster than standards timelines, this launch showcases the talent, dedication, and flexibility of Team V.”

Pegasus, the world’s first privately-developed commercial space launch vehicle, is an air-launched three-staged rocket carried aloft by Northrop Grumman’s specially modified “Stargazer” L-1011 aircraft. Shortly after its release from Stargazer, at approximately 40,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean, Pegasus ignited its first stage, beginning its successful flight carrying TacRL-2 to its intended orbit.

“This Pegasus launch was a clear demonstration of our team’s ability to provide rapid and responsive operational needs,” said Rich Straka, vice president, launch vehicles, Northrop Grumman. “Our team was able to execute the design, integration and testing of the TacRL-2 launch vehicle in less than four months from contract award.”

This is the 45th launch of Pegasus, which uses solid propulsion to offer maximum responsiveness by enabling launch to a wide variety of orbits on short timelines. This capability provides customers with the flexibility to operate from virtually anywhere on Earth with minimal ground support requirements. Pegasus has launched more than 90 satellites into low earth orbit from five separate launch sites in the United States, Europe and the Marshall Islands.

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