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Friday, 22 November 2019

Hewa Bora Airways' TriStar 500 preserved

Along with other vintage aircraft, L-1011-500 9Q-CHC, was moved from Kinshasa N'Djili Airport - where it was stored for many years - to Parc de la Vallé de la Nsele.

9Q-CHC © An Van Den Poel

Some very cool pictures of the airframe can be seen following the link below:

Monday, 18 November 2019

Uncertain future for L-1011 Stargazer

Ahead of the latest ICON/Pegasus XL launch, Northrop Grumman's Vice-President stated that they are planning to keep their L-1011 Stargazer five to 10 years more.
Phil Joyce, vice president of space launch programs at Northrop Grumman, said this week that the company is trying to sell the launches using the two remaining Pegasus XL rockets, and officials plan to keep the Pegasus rocket’s L-1011 carrier jet flying for at least five or 10 more years. 
“We’re looking out five or 10 years with the L-1011, and what parts do we need, being the only flying L-1011 on the planet,” he said. “We have the only trained pilots, we have the only trained mechanics for that aircraft, and we needed the parts.”

However, and since there are no new Pegasus missions scheduled, some rumors say that the aircraft used as an airborne launch platform will be retired soon and turned into a monument, as it was already proposed in the recent past.

Stargazer monument © Gordon/Orbital ATK

In even if Stratolaunch project seems to be having its difficulties, the fact is that new airborne launch platforms for small satellites (like Virgin Orbit's Cosmic Girl/Launcher One) are being developed and the challenge of keeping an aircraft that is 45 years old and that is the last operational L-1011 in the world will certainly condemn Stargazer to its final retirement soon or later.

Sunday, 17 November 2019

More underwater photos of Lockheed L-1011 CS-TMP

CS-TMP © Aqaba.jo

The ex-Luzair L-1011 TriStar is providing the opportunity for amazing photos underwater. You can find some of them on the link below as well as more information about its scuttling.

Aqaba Site: Dive a Lockheed L-1011 TriStar Wreck

Friday, 11 October 2019

Successful launch of the Pegasus XL/ICON Satellite

After a two-year delay, the ICON satellite intended to study the Earth's ionosphere was finally launched. The new launch date was set for the last 9th of October but weather restrictions scrubbed the attempt one more day.

Stargazer © Northrop Grumman Corporation

Last night, the L-1011 took off from Skid Strip at Cape Canaveral, heading towards the Atlantic Ocean and started its climb to 39000 ft. The typical launch circuit pattern was followed and every parameter was nominal for the launch. Unfortunately, when approaching the launch box (a virtual shaped area from which the launch must take place), communications with Stargazer were lost and the launch aborted. The aircraft had to fly one more circuit which took about 30 minutes, and communications were re-established using a new frequency. At its second attempt, everything went fine and the Pegasus XL rocketed away, delivering the payload to its intended orbit (a LEO - Low Earth Orbit).

The ICON mission was the 44th flight of the Pegasus rocket proving the success of the Stargazer/Pegasus XL airborne launch platform.
For the moment there are no new Pegasus XL missions scheduled.

CS-TMP was finally sunk in the Red Sea, near Aqaba

In April of this year, photos of CS-TMP could be seen with the aircraft laying with its wings clipped, near the waters of the Gulf of Aqaba.

CS-TMP © Fábio Conceição

Information was spread that it was intended to sink the airframe to become an artificial reef and to serve as an attraction to scuba divers. Last 26th of August, CS-TMP was finally sunk with its wings and horizontal stabilizers re-attached.

Several websites covered the sinking of the airplane:

The updated status of ex-Portuguese TriStar fleet is the following:

MSN 1206 euroAtlantic CS-TMX - scrapped at Lisbon (LIS)
MSN 1240 euroAtlantic CS-TEB - stored at Amman (ADJ)
MSN 1241 Luzair CS-TMR - re-registered N91011; stored at Victorville (VCV)
MSN 1248 Luzair CS-TMP - sunk in the Gulf of Aqaba

Aircraft Fleet: MSN193H-1248