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:



Inventory Number


Credit Line

Gift of Orbital Sciences Corporation.


Country of Origin

United States of America


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)

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Restrictions & Rights

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


CRAFT-Missiles & Rockets

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