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ORBITAL'S FIRST SUCCESSFUL PEGASUS XL LAUNCH VALIDATES ROCKET DESIGN; ROCKET PLACES U.S. AIR FORCE SATELLITE INTO PRECISE ORBIT

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., March 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Orbital Sciences Corporation (Nasdaq: ORBI) today announced that its Pegasus XL air-launched space booster successfully completed its mission and delivered the U.S. Air Force's Radiation Experiment II (REX II) satellite into orbit at 5:45 p.m. PDT. Preliminary data shows that the satellite is performing well and that the rocket's flight followed a precise trajectory into orbit. Today's mission marks the first successful small launch vehicle flight of any kind since Orbital's Pegasus launch in April 1995.

The Pegasus XL was carried by Orbital's modified Lockheed L-1011 aircraft to its launch altitude of 39,000 feet approximately 60 miles off the California coast, where it was released in a horizontal position and experienced a planned 5-second free fall prior to first-stage rocket motor ignition. The three-stage rocket, which follows a lift-assisted trajectory with the use of a wing, reached orbit approximately 11 minutes later and deployed the REX II satellite into a 450 by 439 nautical mile polar orbit.

"Today's successful launch puts Pegasus XL back in business and should inaugurate a busy year for our Pegasus launch vehicle family," said David W. Thompson, Orbital's President and Chief Executive officer. "We would like to thank our government partners for contributing to the success of this launch, especially the U.S. Air Force, NASA, the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO), and the Aerospace Corporation."

With a backlog of 14 firm missions, orbital plans to execute up to seven Pegasus launches in 1996. The upcoming missions include the Miniature Sensor Technology Integration (MSTI) mission for BMDO; the Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS), Fast Auroral Snapshot Explorer (FAST), Submillimeter Wave Astronomy Satellite (SWAS) and High Energy Transient Experiment (SAC-B/HETE) missions for NASA, and the MINISAT scientific satellite mission for the government of Spain.

The primary purpose of the Air Force's REX II mission is to perform research to understand and overcome the physics of electron density irregularities that cause disruptive effects on radio signals. The secondary experiment, sponsored by the Goddard Space Flight Center, will for the first time use the Global Positioning System (GPS) to determine and control the satellite's attitude.

Following the Pegasus XL failure in June 1995, Orbital led a comprehensive internal review and commissioned an independent assessment of the Pegasus XL's design, manufacturing and assembly methods, and launch procedures. These reviews, carried out by dozens of aerospace industry and government exports, recommended 88 engineering and procedural changes to enhance product robustness, all of which were implemented prior to today's launch.

Orbital is a space and information systems company that designs, manufactures, operates and markets a broad range of affordable space- technology products and satellite-based services. These include launch vehicles, spacecraft, space sensors and electronics, satellite ground systems and software, and satellite communications, navigation and Earth observation services.
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/CONTACT: Elina Fuhrman of Orbital Sciences, 703-406-5528 or 703-307-4753/

(ORBI)

CO: Orbital Sciences Corporation ST: California, Virginia IN: ARO SU:

MP -- NYSA004 -- 1851 03/09/96 15:25 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Mar 9, 1996
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