Pegasus XL Launch Vehicle


Display Status:

This object is on display in the Rockets and Missiles exhibition at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.

Collection Item Summary:

This is the Pegasus XL, a version of the U.S.'s first air-launched orbital launch vehicle. The Pegasus is carried by a modified Lockheed L-1011 or other plane up to its launch altitude of 12,000 m. (39,000 ft.). The three-stage, solid-fuel Pegasus is then released, and its rocket engine ignites and accelerates it to orbital velocity. It can place a small 450 kg (1,000 lb)-class satellite into Earth orbit.

Developed by Orbital Sciences Corporation, Pegasus was first used in 1990 and has since launched dozens of satellites. This vehicle includes the wing of a Pegasus flown into space and recovered in 2000, as well as the first-stage rocket motor used in ground testing the XL version in 1994. This object was donated to the Smithsonian in 2004 by Orbital Sciences.

Collection Item Long Description:

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Restrictions & Rights

Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum


Credit Line

Gift of Orbital Sciences Corporation.


Body, primarily, carbon fiber and graphite filament, with some cork to provide boyancy; wing panels, graphite-faced Nomex-foam sandwich (wings also said to be of graphite-composite, made by Scaled Composites, Inc.); aft skirt assembly, aluminum; aft skirt fins, one-piece solid foam core and wet-laid graphite composite construction around a central titanium shaft; two titanium separation rings between the name Orbital, on both sides of the body, and before the payload section; equidistant internal wrenching bolts around inside perimeters of access panel to actuator, at rear, steel; shiny silver discs on base of each rear fin, non-ferrous and probably aluminum foil material; nozzle, phenolic; internal hex screws, equidistant around interior perimeter of plates for attaching rear fins, steel; payload fairing, two graphite composite half shells


Overall: 57 ft. 5 in. long x 4 ft. 2 in. diameter x 21 ft. 7 13/16 in. span, 52910.4 lb. (1750 x 127 x 660cm, 24000kg)

Country of Origin

United States of America




CRAFT-Missiles & Rockets

Inventory Number


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