NASA HAS EXERCISED an option to use an Orbital Sciences (OSC) Pegasus XL booster under the Small Expendable Launch Vehicle Services (SELVS) contract to launch the Transitional Region and Coronal Explorer (Trace) satellite in 1997. The deal is worth $12 million.

This is the fifth launch to be confirmed as part of the seven confirmed and three optional-launch SELVS programme. OSC's next flight, by an original Pegasus model, is scheduled for this month, carrying the Miniature Sensor Technology Integration 3 satellite into a 330 x 450km 96°-inclination orbit for the US Air Force.

With 14 outstanding launch commitments to meet by the end of 1997 (all using the newer Pegasus XL), OSC intends to fly one mission every 45 days, in a bid to make up for lost time, after the failures of two Pegasus XLs, which resulted in delays of over two years to some NASA satellites, including the Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer to be launched in June.

Source: Flight International