RHESSI Launch: Transcript

Project Manager Peter Harvey explains more about how RHESSI achieved orbit in a short pre-launch web-video clip which includes photos and animations of both the spacecraft and rocket.

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HARVEY: HESSI will be launched on a Pegasus rocket, which is a unique rocket. Most people don't know about this type of launch vehicle. It is strapped to the bottom of an L-1011 plane. The spacecraft, of course, is inside the front of the rocket in the ferring, and they fly the plane up to 50,000 feet and they drop the rocket, and 8 seconds later, it ignites and is on its way into space. The second stage will take it up. The ground controllers can control how much they want at the second stage to go. They have a little bit of control on that. At the third stage, it's a one time event. They fire it and it just goes. When the third stage is spent, it turns itself toward the sun, with the spacecraft on the front, and releases it. At that point, a minute later, the spacecraft begins to deploy its solar arrays. We're going into a 600 kilometer altitude orbit, which is fine for something up to 300 kilograms, which is about what our spacecraft is.

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