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 indefinitely! When 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. 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 (aboard a Pegasus rocket!). 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. Unfortunately, this setback means that HESSI is running a year behind schedule. HESSI was suppose to be launched in July 2000, but the probe was damaged in ground vibration testing and had to be repaired. It may well be another few months before HESSI gets off the ground...

HESSI stands for High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager. HESSI stands to provide data that would help scientists make great strides in understanding solar flares. HESSI will study where flares occur on the Sun, how flares accelerate particles and what happens to a flare over the course of the flare's lifetime. HESSI will be the first mission to view these solar events in the x-ray and gamma ray segments of the electromagnetic spectrum. HESSI will work in coordination with the SOHO, TRACE, GOES, and ACE satellites to provide scientists with observations about the Sun, solar activity and the Sun's effect on Earth.

HESSI is NASA's newest solar science mission. The total cost of the HESSI mission is $85 million. This includes the spacecraft, launch vehicles, mission operations and data analysis.

Last modified January 11, 2002 by Jennifer Bergman.

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