David E.

Steitz Headquarters, Washington, DC (Phone: 202/358-1730) George Diller Kennedy Space Center, FL (Phone: 407/867-2468)

November 4, 1996

Keith Koehler Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, VA (Phone: 757/824-1579) Barron Beneski Orbital Sciences Corp., Dulles, VA (Phone: 703/406-5528) RELEASE: 96-227 PEGASUS LAUNCH ANOMALY UNDER INVESTIGATION Preliminary analysis of todayÕs launch of the SAC-B and HETE spacecraft indicates that the Orbital Sciences CorporationÕs Pegasus XL third stage failed to separate properly. Both spacecraft are still attached to the third stage in low Earth orbit. Project officials believe up to four of the five scientific instruments aboard SAC-B may still be able to return scientific data. The HETE spacecraft was unable to deploy its solar arrays and battery failure is expected today. The Pegasus launch occured at approximately 12:09 p.m. EST offshore from NASAÕs Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The Pegasus vehicle achieved the desired orbit of 265 nautical miles by 297 nautical miles at an inclination of 38 degrees. NASA attempted to acquire a signal from the spacecraft through the Goldstone tracking station in California, and successfully sent commands and received data from SAC-B through the Wallops tracking station at the end of the first orbit.

Further analysis of the problem is currently underway. An investigation board has been convened by Orbital Sciences to determine the cause of the problem. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center also has convened an independent board to investigate the launch anomaly. SAC-B (Scientific Applications Satellite-B), a 400-pound spacecraft, is an international cooperative project between NASA and ArgentinaÕs National Commission of Space Activities. HETE (High Energy Transient Experiment), a 275-pound spacecraft, is a cooperative project between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Goddard Space Flight CenterÕs International Projects Office, Greenbelt, MD. The Pegasus XL, built by Orbital Sciences of Dulles, VA, is a three-stage, solid propellant booster system carried aloft by an L-1011 jet aircraft and released at an altitude of about 40,000 feet and an airspeed of Mach 0.8. - end NASA press releases and other information are available automatically by sending an Internet electronic mail message to domo@hq.nasa.gov. In the body of the message (not the subject line) users should type the words "subscribe pressrelease" (no quotes). The system will reply with a confirmation via E-mail of each subscription. A second automatic message will include additional information on the service. NASA releases also are available via CompuServe using the command GO NASA.