NASA flight facility launches nanosatellite

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va., 23 May 2009. NASA's PharmaSat nanosatellite launched at 7:55 p.m. EDT Tuesday from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport located at Wallops Island, Va. PharmaSat entered orbit aboard a four-stage Air Force Minotaur 1 rocket, alongside the Air Force Research Laboratory's TacSat-3 satellite. Also in tow were other NASA CubeSat Technology Demonstration experiments, including three four-inch cubed satellites developed by universities and industry.

"After a spectacular launch as a hitchhiker on the TacSat-3 mission, we made contact with PharmaSat and confirmed that the spacecraft deployed successfully," says Bruce Yost, PharmaSat mission manager at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

Approximately 20 minutes after launch, PharmaSat separated from the Minotaur 1 rocket and entered low Earth orbit at an altitude of approximately 285 miles, reveals a representative. Roughly an hour after launch, NASA spaceflight engineers made contact with PharmaSat.

After a spacecraft checkout period, ground controllers will command PharmaSat to initiate its biological experiment, which will last approximately 96 hours.

PharmaSat is activated and has begun transmitting radio signals to ground control stations at SRI International in Menlo Park, Calif., and Santa Clara University, Calif. It will send mission data to the NASA Mission Management Team at NASA's Ames Research Center. The nanosatellite could transmit data for as long as six months.

The Exploration Technology Development Program in NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters in Washington funded the PharmaSat project.

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