Author Topic: Pegasus to launch ICON Dec. 8, 2017 from Kwajalein  (Read 17363 times)

Offline Comga

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Another Pegasus
Launch contract is ~$56.3 M.November 20, 2014
NASA Awards Launch Services Contract for Ionospheric Connection Explorer
NASA has selected Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Virginia, to provide launch services for the Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) mission.
 
ICON is targeted to launch in June 2017 from the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands aboard a Pegasus XL launch vehicle from Orbital's "Stargazer" L-1011 aircraft.
 
The total cost for NASA to launch ICON under this new firm-fixed price launch services task order is approximately $56.3 million. This includes spacecraft processing, payload integration, tracking, data and telemetry and other launch support requirements.
 
ICON will study the interface between the upper reaches of Earth's atmosphere and space in response to a recent scientific discovery that the ionosphere, positioned at the edge of space where the sun ionizes the air to create charged particles, is significantly influenced by storms in the lower atmosphere. ICON also will help NASA better understand how atmospheric winds control ionospheric variability.
 
NASA's Launch Services Program at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for management and oversight of the Pegasus XL launch services. The ICON mission is led by the University of California, Berkeley, with oversight by the Explorers Program at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

edit/gongora: Current launch date showing as November 14, 2017
« Last Edit: 09/09/2017 01:06 PM by gongora »
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Online Chris Bergin

Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #1 on: 11/20/2014 11:13 PM »
Glorious news as we really don't want to see Pegasus go away! I want to do an article on this, but they've not really provided much info there. Will have a think, but we're covered with this thread at least.

Offline pericynthion

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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #2 on: 11/21/2014 11:09 AM »
Hooray! Every time I land at Mojave I see the L-1011 and wish it would fly again.  Yeah, it's kind of expensive, but it's such a neat system.

Offline Kim Keller

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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #3 on: 11/21/2014 01:25 PM »
Here's hoping I have another trip to Kwaj in my future!

Offline starchasercowboy

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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #4 on: 11/21/2014 10:24 PM »
We flew Stargazer for 45 minutes on Novenber 19th.  Crew had only one squawk.  Last flying L1011 in the world and still flying great.  Got 2 missions on the books to last us to 2017 and we hope Pegasus will take us into the 2020's. 8)
« Last Edit: 11/21/2014 10:26 PM by starchasercowboy »

Offline Comga

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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #5 on: 11/21/2014 10:33 PM »
We flew Stargazer for 45 minutes on Novenber 19th.  Crew had only one squawk.  Last flying L1011 in the world and still flying great.  Got 2 missions on the books to last us to 2017 and we hope Pegasus will take us into the 2020's. 8)
Welcome to the forum.
The pictures make for a great first post.
It is lovely to see that old machine flying.  Always liked the lines on the L-1011.
Which Pegasus is being carried in the photos?
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #6 on: 11/22/2014 12:35 AM »
Last flying L1011 in the world and still flying great. 
I was going to ask....
« Last Edit: 11/22/2014 12:36 AM by kevin-rf »
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Offline Kim Keller

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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #7 on: 11/22/2014 03:35 PM »
We flew Stargazer for 45 minutes on Novenber 19th.  Crew had only one squawk.  Last flying L1011 in the world and still flying great.  Got 2 missions on the books to last us to 2017 and we hope Pegasus will take us into the 2020's. 8)
Welcome to the forum.
The pictures make for a great first post.
It is lovely to see that old machine flying.  Always liked the lines on the L-1011.
Which Pegasus is being carried in the photos?

The second photo looks like the arrival of Stargazer/NuSTAR at Kwaj. Not sure about the top photo - it's a departure shot at VAFB, possibly for NuSTAR, too?

Offline starchasercowboy

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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #8 on: 11/22/2014 09:53 PM »
The first photo was Stargazer landing in Kona, Hi with IBEX 2008 onboard Pegasus XL. One night stop over for crew rest and then on to Kwaj.  Second photo was landing in Kwaj with IBEX. We only launch the Pegasus XL version now. 
Chris
What kind of article do you want to do? Stargazer, Pegasus or both? Orbital has been very open to media when it comes to  this launch system.  I can put you in touch with somebody.

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #9 on: 11/23/2014 05:57 AM »
@starchasercowboy

Is the Stargazer L-1011's engines meeting upcoming noise restrictions? If not, can the L-1011 be refitted with new engines?

Hope to see the Stargazer fly more launch missions.

Offline pericynthion

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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #10 on: 11/23/2014 06:03 AM »
I would hope the regulators are sensible enough that those noise restrictions don't apply to MHV, VBG and PKWA - I'm sure the neighbors don't care - but I guess it's never safe to assume that's the case...

Offline llanitedave

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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #11 on: 11/23/2014 03:59 PM »
@starchasercowboy

Is the Stargazer L-1011's engines meeting upcoming noise restrictions? If not, can the L-1011 be refitted with new engines?

Hope to see the Stargazer fly more launch missions.

From here:

Quote
The design featured a twin-aisle interior with a maximum of 400 passengers, a three-engine layout, low noise emissions (in the early 1970s, Eastern Air Lines nicknamed the L-1011 "WhisperLiner")

I know noise tolerances are lower than they used to be, but I don't think there's going to be a problem in the context of use here.
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Offline kevin-rf

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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #12 on: 11/23/2014 07:02 PM »
Funny, some how the An-124 and An-225 manage to still fly cargo through out the US. Not only do they deliver spacecraft, rocket stages, but Boeing uses them from time to time to deliver aircraft parts. Some how I suspect they are louder than a TriStar.

Honestly, if it came down to it, it would be cheaper to find a replacement than to re-engine.

If memory serves, the last profitable re-engine program was the DC-8 Super 70 conversions in the late seventies, early 80's. You could include the mid 90's re-engining of the U-2 with General Electric F118-GE-101's. Every now and then re-engining the B-52 comes up. I think some 707's have been re-engined over the years, but that is about it.

It is not a very common practice. 

The Airbus and Boeing programs to re-engine the a320's and 737's center around new builds, not retro fits.

That said, there are several programs to improve fuel burn by adding wing tips to existing planes. There are always the freighter conversion programs for passenger jets. Yet in all the current refit programs, no one offers an option to replace the engines.
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Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #13 on: 11/23/2014 07:25 PM »
Funny, some how the An-124 and An-225 manage to still fly cargo through out the US. Not only do they deliver spacecraft, rocket stages, but Boeing uses them from time to time to deliver aircraft parts. Some how I suspect they are louder than a TriStar.

Honestly, if it came down to it, it would be cheaper to find a replacement than to re-engine.

If memory serves, the last profitable re-engine program was the DC-8 Super 70 conversions in the late seventies, early 80's. You could include the mid 90's re-engining of the U-2 with General Electric F118-GE-101's. Every now and then re-engining the B-52 comes up. I think some 707's have been re-engined over the years, but that is about it.

It is not a very common practice. 

The Airbus and Boeing programs to re-engine the a320's and 737's center around new builds, not retro fits.

That said, there are several programs to improve fuel burn by adding wing tips to existing planes. There are always the freighter conversion programs for passenger jets. Yet in all the current refit programs, no one offers an option to replace the engines.

IIRC you need a jumbo jet of some type without a center fuselage landing gear under the wings to carry & launch the Pegasus. So not too many alternates to the L-1011, maybe some early models of the DC-10/MD-11.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #14 on: 11/23/2014 10:57 PM »
Uummm... as the B-52 proved, it does not have t be carried on the center line.  The under construction Straolauncher also comes to mind. I think White Knight 2 lacks the necessary lift, Space Ship 2 is half the weight.

There are options, but I don't see them being needed. They chose the airframe because it was cheap and has a beam along the center of the fuselege that the DC-10 lacks.  For Pegasus, the airframe has plenty of life left in it. They are storing it in a desert. A place that has a fair number of noisy military aircraft flying in and out.

I think the worry about noise compliance is a red herring. It definitely is not a valid reason to spend a large sum of money on an aircraft that flies fewer times in a year than it did over a week while in commercial service. I mean jeeze, Travolta still goes bouncing around in that retired Qantas 707 he has. (Though, to be fair, it does have hush kits on the engines)
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Offline starchasercowboy

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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #15 on: 11/24/2014 09:32 PM »
We upgraded the engines from RB211-22b to RB211-524B4, 42k to 50k thrust per engine back in 2009. Stargazer is a real hotrod now. She got a new paint job in 2013. This aircraft is babied all the time and should last a while. The management at Orbital has a lot of fondness for this launch system and as long as we keep getting satellites to put up, the airplane will be ready.
We usually fly to military bases when we launch Pegasus, so noise is not a factor.

Offline llanitedave

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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #16 on: 11/25/2014 02:15 AM »
I flew on an L-1011 once, back in 1974.  I thought I had really hit the big time!

Purty plane, it was.  And this one still is.
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Offline Kim Keller

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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #17 on: 11/26/2014 06:59 PM »
I flew on an L-1011 once, back in 1974.  I thought I had really hit the big time!

Purty plane, it was.  And this one still is.

Purty, yes. Big time? Well, I flew across the pond a few times on L1011's with 2-5-2 seating. Since I was a lowly contractor (flying to TAL sites for shuttle support), my seat was usually in the middle of the 5-seat group, at the rear of the cabin, directly under that center engine - for six hours or more. I never felt like I had hit the big time!

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #18 on: 11/26/2014 08:29 PM »
I flew on an L-1011 once, back in 1974.  I thought I had really hit the big time!

Purty plane, it was.  And this one still is.

Purty, yes. Big time? Well, I flew across the pond a few times on L1011's with 2-5-2 seating. Since I was a lowly contractor (flying to TAL sites for shuttle support), my seat was usually in the middle of the 5-seat group, at the rear of the cabin, directly under that center engine - for six hours or more. I never felt like I had hit the big time!
I share your less than fond memories of flying on L1011 aircraft.  I remember the interior vibrating, rattling the overhead bins during climbouts, etc.  I rode them on Eastern Airlines and maybe TWA.

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Offline kevin-rf

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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #19 on: 02/20/2015 12:57 PM »
Looks like Stargrazer went out for a flight recently, a fair number of people on airliners.net are all abuzz about the flight.

http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/general_aviation/read.main/6320479/
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Offline newpylong

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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #20 on: 02/20/2015 01:16 PM »
Always loved the Tristar.  Orbital's is a beauty!

Online ZachS09

Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #21 on: 03/09/2015 03:00 AM »
For this final Pegasus rocket launch, I would like it if a rocketcam was positioned on the rocket's second stage to capture liftoff video as seen on the ALEXIS and Minisat 01 missions. Lately, Ecliptic Enterprises only put rocketcams on where viewers can see the spacecraft separation.
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Offline edkyle99

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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #22 on: 03/09/2015 03:22 AM »
For this final Pegasus rocket launch, I would like it if a rocketcam was positioned on the rocket's second stage to capture liftoff video as seen on the ALEXIS and Minisat 01 missions. Lately, Ecliptic Enterprises only put rocketcams on where viewers can see the spacecraft separation.
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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #23 on: 03/09/2015 02:50 PM »
Well, there are only two more Pegasus rockets scheduled and ICON seems to be the last one. What do you think about my rocketcam idea?
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Offline edkyle99

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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #24 on: 03/09/2015 04:11 PM »
Well, there are only two more Pegasus rockets scheduled and ICON seems to be the last one. What do you think about my rocketcam idea?
Rocketcam would be fun, but I'm not sure they would be set up to handle the downrange downlinking needed from the Marshall Islands.  A lot of blue water and little else out there.

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Offline Jim

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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #25 on: 03/09/2015 06:11 PM »
For this final Pegasus rocket launch, I would like it if a rocketcam was positioned on the rocket's second stage to capture liftoff video as seen on the ALEXIS and Minisat 01 missions. Lately, Ecliptic Enterprises only put rocketcams on where viewers can see the spacecraft separation.

No, Ecliptic Enterprises does not put them on rockets.  ULA and Spacex do it.  Also, Spacex has their own cams and I believe ULA does too.

Online ZachS09

Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #26 on: 03/09/2015 07:00 PM »
For this final Pegasus rocket launch, I would like it if a rocketcam was positioned on the rocket's second stage to capture liftoff video as seen on the ALEXIS and Minisat 01 missions. Lately, Ecliptic Enterprises only put rocketcams on where viewers can see the spacecraft separation.

No, Ecliptic Enterprises does not put them on rockets.  ULA and Spacex do it.  Also, Spacex has their own cams and I believe ULA does too.

I thought Ecliptic Enterprises used to do rocketcams since 1997. Didn't they quit doing them?
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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #27 on: 03/09/2015 07:14 PM »

I thought Ecliptic Enterprises used to do rocketcams since 1997. Didn't they quit doing them?

They were a supplier for them.   But it is not up to them to add them to vehicles, it is up to the launch vehicle contractor and some, if not all, are producing the cams themselves.
« Last Edit: 03/09/2015 07:16 PM by Jim »

Online ZachS09

Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #28 on: 03/09/2015 08:54 PM »
I apologize; I was convinced the wrong way.
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Offline starchasercowboy

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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #29 on: 03/10/2015 03:24 PM »
There are plenty of camera angles in this IRIS/Pegasus video. Cockpit, fin sweep, drop from the plane and first stage ignition (from NASA F-18).  More on youtube.

Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #30 on: 12/17/2016 04:52 AM »
NASA’s ICON and GOLD missions will take complementary observations of Earth’s ionosphere and upper atmosphere. NASA image.


Online eeergo

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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in NOVEMBER '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #31 on: 06/09/2017 10:14 AM »
This launch has been delayed to November 14th, according to SFN's schedule.
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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON November 14, 2017 from Kwajalein
« Reply #32 on: 06/10/2017 12:37 AM »
Funny, some how the An-124 and An-225 manage to still fly cargo through out the US. Not only do they deliver spacecraft, rocket stages, but Boeing uses them from time to time to deliver aircraft parts. Some how I suspect they are louder than a TriStar.

Honestly, if it came down to it, it would be cheaper to find a replacement than to re-engine.

If memory serves, the last profitable re-engine program was the DC-8 Super 70 conversions in the late seventies, early 80's. You could include the mid 90's re-engining of the U-2 with General Electric F118-GE-101's. Every now and then re-engining the B-52 comes up. I think some 707's have been re-engined over the years, but that is about it.

It is not a very common practice. 

The Airbus and Boeing programs to re-engine the a320's and 737's center around new builds, not retro fits.

That said, there are several programs to improve fuel burn by adding wing tips to existing planes. There are always the freighter conversion programs for passenger jets. Yet in all the current refit programs, no one offers an option to replace the engines.

IIRC you need a jumbo jet of some type without a center fuselage landing gear under the wings to carry & launch the Pegasus. So not too many alternates to the L-1011, maybe some early models of the DC-10/MD-11.
An-124, An-225 and IL-76 are in different phases of planning for re-engining with PD18R engine but geo-political fallout has slowed the effort since the aircraft were built primarily in Ukraine so Ilyushin IL-106 project revival is considered to replace both fleets. Chinese versions have already been re-engined.
« Last Edit: 06/10/2017 12:48 AM by russianhalo117 »

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON November 14, 2017 from Kwajalein
« Reply #33 on: 06/10/2017 09:51 PM »
Funny, some how the An-124 and An-225 manage to still fly cargo through out the US. Not only do they deliver spacecraft, rocket stages, but Boeing uses them from time to time to deliver aircraft parts. Some how I suspect they are louder than a TriStar.

Honestly, if it came down to it, it would be cheaper to find a replacement than to re-engine.

If memory serves, the last profitable re-engine program was the DC-8 Super 70 conversions in the late seventies, early 80's. You could include the mid 90's re-engining of the U-2 with General Electric F118-GE-101's. Every now and then re-engining the B-52 comes up. I think some 707's have been re-engined over the years, but that is about it.

It is not a very common practice. 

The Airbus and Boeing programs to re-engine the a320's and 737's center around new builds, not retro fits.

That said, there are several programs to improve fuel burn by adding wing tips to existing planes. There are always the freighter conversion programs for passenger jets. Yet in all the current refit programs, no one offers an option to replace the engines.

IIRC you need a jumbo jet of some type without a center fuselage landing gear under the wings to carry & launch the Pegasus. So not too many alternates to the L-1011, maybe some early models of the DC-10/MD-11.
An-124, An-225 and IL-76 are in different phases of planning for re-engining with PD18R engine but geo-political fallout has slowed the effort since the aircraft were built primarily in Ukraine so Ilyushin IL-106 project revival is considered to replace both fleets. Chinese versions have already been re-engined.

Just have a quick at some under body illustrations of the An-124 & Il-76 online. The Il-76 does have main landing gears retracted inwards toward the center line of the fuselage, so no room to mounted something like the Pegasus underneath. Seems the An-124 also have the inward retracting main landing feature from their military rough field operating requirements. So the An-124 & Il-76 does not appears to be variable candidates for conversion to be a Pegasus launching aircraft.

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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #34 on: 06/11/2017 04:08 PM »
Funny, some how the An-124 and An-225 manage to still fly cargo through out the US. Not only do they deliver spacecraft, rocket stages, but Boeing uses them from time to time to deliver aircraft parts. Some how I suspect they are louder than a TriStar.

Honestly, if it came down to it, it would be cheaper to find a replacement than to re-engine.

If memory serves, the last profitable re-engine program was the DC-8 Super 70 conversions in the late seventies, early 80's. You could include the mid 90's re-engining of the U-2 with General Electric F118-GE-101's. Every now and then re-engining the B-52 comes up. I think some 707's have been re-engined over the years, but that is about it.

It is not a very common practice. 

The Airbus and Boeing programs to re-engine the a320's and 737's center around new builds, not retro fits.

That said, there are several programs to improve fuel burn by adding wing tips to existing planes. There are always the freighter conversion programs for passenger jets. Yet in all the current refit programs, no one offers an option to replace the engines.

IIRC you need a jumbo jet of some type without a center fuselage landing gear under the wings to carry & launch the Pegasus. So not too many alternates to the L-1011, maybe some early models of the DC-10/MD-11.

The L1011 was chosen over the DC-10 because the fuselage had twin spars and the Pegasus vertical fin could go between them.

Offline starchasercowboy

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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON November 14, 2017 from Kwajalein
« Reply #35 on: 06/11/2017 04:34 PM »
The vertical fin is about 6 feet tall from the aft skirt.  The hydraulic service center for the L1011 is in the right spot for this.  No other aircraft has this in the right place. The placement of the main hooks also connects from the bottom of the center wingbox and the wing of Pegasus. This first stage holds 52k lbs in the right place for the CG to be in MAC for all the flight conditions designed for the L1011 with cargo for ferry.  Fitting Pegasus close to the bottom of the fuselage and having the fairings close off the airflow helps with less buffeting and flutter.  All the support,  like nitrogen,  clean air conditioning, satellite monitoring equipment, battery monitoring, rocket monitoring,  fin sweep, and hook hydraulics have all been modified over the years to get it right.  I bring this up to inform you that not many airplanes are designed to carry a Rocket.  The L1011, passenger/cargo, just happened to work out for Orbital when they made the switch from B52. To reach the specific orbits that the satellite customers want means the place where you launch from, altitude,  rocket performance, and speed at launch from the type of aircraft you are using has to be very flexable. By this I mean, the aircraft might have to be able to land on short thin runways, like Kwaj, reach 40k feet altitude, and 250kts airspeed to reach the customers required orbit. Virgin and Strato have many hours of flight test to get their platforms right. IMHO liquid rockets will take more time to develop than the already proven chemical rocket for airlaunch.

Offline StevenV

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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON in June '17 from Kwajalein
« Reply #36 on: 06/14/2017 09:34 PM »
The L1011 was chosen over the DC-10 because the fuselage had twin spars and the Pegasus vertical fin could go between them.

It was chosen because it was cheap, as you noted almost 10 years ago. ;) The twin spars was a lucky coincidence.
It's in the stickied Q&A.

What we did NOT know when we chose the L-1011 is how PERFECT the L-1011 was going to be for that application!

Offline Salo

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Re: Pegasus to launch ICON November 14, 2017 from Kwajalein
« Reply #37 on: 09/09/2017 06:56 AM »
https://www.nasa.gov/launchschedule/#.U0NkJ6L-6c4
Quote
Date: December 8, 2017
Mission: ICON (Ionospheric Connection Explorer)

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