Military Embedded Systems

Pegasus XL rocket launches Space Force payload into orbit


June 14, 2021

Emma Helfrich

Technology Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Pegasus XL rocket launches Space Force payload into orbit
Northrop Grumman photo.

FALLS CHURCH, Va. Northrop Grumman Corporation announced it has launched the Tactically Responsive Launch-2 (TacRL-2) payload into orbit for the U.S. Space Force (USSF), using the company’s Pegasus XL rocket. TacRL-2 was launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base.

According to officials, the USSF’s tactically responsive launch concept seeks to introduce speed, agility, and flexibility into the launch enterprise in order to respond to dynamic changes in the space domain or an operational theater and insert or replace assets on orbit much faster than standard timelines to meet emerging combatant command requirements.

Northrop Grumman claims that Pegasus is an air-launched three-staged rocket carried aloft by the company's specially modified Stargazer L-1011 aircraft. Shortly after its release from Stargazer, at approximately 40,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean, officials claim that Pegasus ignited its first stage, beginning its flight carrying TacRL-2 to its intended orbit.

This is the 45th launch of Pegasus, which uses solid propulsion to offer maximum responsiveness by enabling launch to a variety of orbits on short timelines. This capability is designed to provide customers with the flexibility to operate from various locations on Earth with minimal ground support requirements. Pegasus has launched more than 90 satellites into low earth orbit from five separate launch sites in the United States, Europe, and the Marshall Islands.


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