This image shows the L-1011 airplane with the Pegasus rocket booster and HESSI attached to its underside. This picture was taken at Cape Canaveral where the plane will eventually take off from...
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Courtesy of NASA

HESSI Awaits Launch (Updated!)
News story originally written on July 6, 2001

The launch of solar satellite HESSI has been postponed! When it turned out that the Pegasus rocket designed to boost the X-34A hypersonic vehicle went out of control on June 2nd and had to be blown up, NASA got a little nervous. You see, HESSI was suppose to be launched June 7, 2001, aboard a Pegasus rocket. The Stargazer L-1011 aircraft was to take off from Cape Canaveral in Florida carrying HESSI and its Pegasus rocket booster into the air. The aircraft would release the rocket which would boost HESSI to its circular orbit about 373 miles above Earth. NASA engineers want to make sure there isn't a generic problem with the Pegasus booster rockets before sending HESSI off into space. HESSI has been sent to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Here HESSI will be serviced and stored until it can be determined that HESSI is ok for take-off aboard its Pegasus rocket. But, it may well be another few months before HESSI gets off the ground...

HESSI (the High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager) is NASA's newest mission built to study the Sun. Specifically, HESSI will study solar flares. Solar activity like flares can have a huge effect on Earth. Particles released during a solar flare can reach Earth causing strong geomagnetic storms, aurorae and electrical power blackouts. So, it's important for us to understand solar flares. HESSI will help us do just that!

The total cost of the HESSI mission is $85 million.

Last modified January 11, 2002 by Jennifer Bergman.

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