NASA's CYGNSS spacecraft aboard an Orbital ATK Pegasus rocket was successfully launched after multiple delays during the week.
The initial launch was postponed because a hydraulic pump aboard the Orbital ATK L-1011 Stargazer aircraft, which is required to release the latches holding the Pegasus in place, was not receiving power.
The launch wasn't typical because the Pegasus rocket was carried aloft by Orbital ATK's Stargazer L-1011 aircraft to approximately 40,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean, where it was then released. After around five seconds of free fall, the rocket ignited its first stage rocket motor. The Pegasus delivered the eight CYGNSS satellites into orbit in a little over 10 minutes.
CYGNSS will be used to study hurricanes and to learn about their rapid intensification.
"This mission will help us get a better idea of the intensity of tropical cyclones," said Frank Peri, director of the Earth Systems Science Program Office (ESSPO), based at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.
The successful launch was the 29th consecutive successful mission for the Pegasus rocket since 1997 and the 43rd overall flight of the world's first privately developed commercial rocket.