SWAS Spacecraft Pages
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SWAS was launched into orbit on December 5, 1998 from the Western Test Range,
Vandenberg Air Force Base, in Lompoc, California, using a Pegasus-XL
launch vehicle. The Pegasus-XL launch vehicle, is a three-stage,
solid-propellant booster system carried aloft
by an L-1011 jet aircraft and released from the aircraft at an altitude of
about 40,000 feet at an airspeed of Mach 0.8 ( pictured above).
The SWAS observatory is in a highly inclined orbit with an
altitude of 650 km above the surface of the Earth. One orbit takes about
96 minutes. NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and a
Transportable Orbital Tracking Station at Poker Flat, Alaska serve as the
primary ground stations for the mission.