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FAA Renews Pegasus License for Wallops, Cape Canaveral Launches 

By Rachel Jewett | March 18, 2021

      Northrop Grumman successfully launched the Pegasus XL rocket carrying NASA’s ICON satellite on Oct. 10, 2019. Photo: Northrop Grumman

      The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has renewed the launch operator license of Orbital Sciences for its Pegasus launch vehicle, the administration announced Wednesday. 

      The renewed licenses are valid for five years. They authorize the company to conduct flights from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Orbital Sciences must still receive FAA authorization for specific launches.

      Orbital Sciences is a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman. Its Pegasus launch vehicle uses the air-launch method, it takes off from a carrier aircraft that is in flight. The rocket has conducted 44 missions, launching 95 small satellites to Low-Earth Orbit (LEO). But Pegasus has not flown since the ICON mission for NASA in 2019, and has only flown four times since 2010. 

      Separately, Spaceflight Now reported that the U.S. Space Force is planning for a Pegasus launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California this summer. The mission, TacRL-2, is part of the Space Force’s Tactically Responsive Launch program.