Launch Vehicle, Pegasus XL, Orbital Sciences Corporation

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    Pegasus XL Launch Vehicle

    Cylindrical, with pair of high mounted swept-back or truncated delta wings with a double-wedge profile, blunt nose cap, three clipped equidistant moveable delta wings at rear; protruding nozzle; overall, painted flat white, with canary yellow wings tips; interior of nozzle, black; with shiny silver nozzle protective closure plate across nozzle throat; three shiny silver discs on the base of each of the three rear fins; single split fairing line along fairing section at front; two separation rings, silver-colored, titanium, between the name Orbital, on both sides of the body, and before payload section at front; payload fairing consisting of two composite shell halves and a nose cap integral to a shell half, and a separation system. This Pegasus XL lacks its avionics. Three electromechanically-actuated control fins mounted on the aft end of the fuselage provide pitch, roll, and yaw control of the vehicle while it is still in the atmosphere. Small rockets mounted in the base of each fin augment the control authority when the vehicle reaches the upper atmosphere.

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

Rockets & Missiles

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.