Pegasus XL To Launch Earth Observing Nanosats for NASA

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WASHINGTON — Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., will launch eight Earth observing nanosatellites for NASA in October 2016 aboard its air-launched Pegasus rocket under a contract the company announced April 1.

The launch of the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) will take place from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Orbital said in the press release.

Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.

CYGNSS, led by the University of Michigan, is a constellation of eight tiny satellites that will measure ocean-surface wind speeds during the life cycle of tropical storms and hurricanes using direct and reflected GPS signals. The mission has an advertised price tag of $150 million and is the first satellite-based project in the Venture class of small missions managed by NASA’s Earth Science Directorate.

Other partners on the project are mission integrator Southwest Research Institute; instrument payload provider Surrey Satellite Technology U.S.; and Sierra Nevada Corp., which is supplying the spacecraft deployment module.

On March 24, Emcore Corp. announced it had been selected by Sierra Nevada to design and manufacture the solar panels for the CYGNSS nanosatellites.