-- Company to Provide Both the Launch Vehicle and Satellite for
Important NASA Mission --
DULLES, Va.Nov. 24, 2014--
Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB), one of the world s leading
space technology companies, today announced that the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has awarded the company a
contract for its Pegasus rocket to launch the space agency s
Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) scientific satellite into low
Earth orbit. With the selection of Orbital s air-launched Pegasus
rocket, NASA is again turning to Orbital to provide both the satellite
and launch vehicle for an important science mission based on advanced
and cost-effective smaller space systems.
In 2013, NASA selected Orbital to design, build and test the ICON
satellite. The spacecraft is now starting production at Orbital s
Dulles, VA satellite design, manufacturing and testing facilities. The
launch of ICON aboard Pegasus will take place in mid-2017 from the
Reagan Test Site at Kwajalein Island near the equator in the mid-Pacific
We are very pleased that NASA continues to recognize the value of the
Pegasus space launch vehicle to support smaller-size and cost-effective
science missions, said Mr. Ron Grabe, Orbital s Executive Vice
President and General Manager of its Launch Systems Group. Our Pegasus
team is now working on two upcoming missions, including ICON and the
CYGNSS launch that is scheduled for late 2016.
Orbital has provided both the satellite and launch vehicle for numerous
previous NASA scientific missions, which have provided scientists around
the world with critical data in the fields of Earth science,
heliosphysics and astrophysics. The most recent example of this dual
capability occurred in mid-2012, when Orbital launched the company-built
Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) satellite aboard a
Pegasus rocket. Other past examples of the pairing of an Orbital
satellite and rocket for NASA science missions include the IBEX, AIM,
SORCE, GALEX and RHESSI projects, all of which were launched aboard
Pegasus rockets in the 2002-2008 period.
About the Pegasus Rocket
Pegasus is the world s leading launch system for the deployment of small
satellites into low-Earth orbit. Its patented air-launch system, in
which the rocket is launched from beneath Orbital s Stargazer L-1011
carrier aircraft over the ocean, reduces cost and provides customers
with unparalleled flexibility to operate from virtually anywhere on
Earth with minimal ground support requirements. It is the world s only
small space launch vehicle that has been certified with NASA s Risk
Category 3, which the space agency reserves for its highest value space
missions. The two upcoming Pegasus missions, CYGNSS and ICON, will be
the 43rd and 44th Pegasus launches since the
vehicle s first flight in 1990.
About the ICON Satellite
The ICON mission was chosen by NASA for its high scientific value and
low-risk development plan. It will improve the forecasts of extreme
space weather by probing the variability of Earth s ionosphere with
in-situ and remote-sensing instruments. Fluctuations in the ionosphere
can disrupt satellite and radio communications from low- and
geostationary-orbit communications spacecraft, creating a direct impact
on the nation s economy. The scientific findings resulting from the ICON
mission could, for example, benefit commercial aircraft, as GPS signals
can be distorted by charged-particle storms in the ionosphere.
The ICON program is being led by Principal Investigator Dr. Thomas Immel
of the University of California/Berkeley s Space Sciences Laboratory
(UCB/SSL) and mission management is performed by UCB/SSL under NASA s
Goddard Space Flight Center Explorers program.
Orbital develops and manufactures small- and medium-class rockets and
space systems for commercial, military and civil government customers.
The company s primary products are satellites and launch vehicles,
including low-Earth orbit, geosynchronous-Earth orbit and planetary
exploration spacecraft for communications, remote sensing, scientific
and defense missions; human-rated space systems for Earth-orbit, lunar
and other missions; ground- and air-launched rockets that deliver
satellites into orbit; and missile defense systems that are used as
interceptor and target vehicles. Orbital also provides research rocket
and satellite subsystems and space-related technical services to U.S.
Government agencies and laboratories. More information about Orbital can
be found at http://www.orbital.com.
Follow the company on Twitter @OrbitalSciences.
Note to editors: High resolution photos of the Pegasus rocket and
ICON satellite are available on Orbital s web site at:
Source: Orbital Sciences Corporation
Orbital Sciences Corporation
Barron Beneski, 703-406-5528
and Investor Relations