A Look Inside Orbital’s Stargazer Launch Aircraft

Orbital Sciences Corporation opened up its Stargazer launch aircraft for public tours last week during Plane Crazy Saturday at the Mojave Air and Space Port. It offered a rare opportunity to see inside the airplane.

The 1974 L-1011 TriStar was in service for Air Canada. Orbital Sciences found it in a boneyard in Arizona and modified it for the air-launched Pegasus booster. It is the last operational L-1011 in the United States.

Company officials named it Stargazer after the Constellation-class star cruiser commanded by Jean-Luc Picard prior to taking over the U.S.S. Enterprise in “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

The cockpit has four seats. Behind the cockpit in the first class section are two consoles with three chairs where engineers sit during Pegasus launches. There are also a dozen conventional airline seats located in this section for passengers as well as luggage bins.

The remainder of the aircraft, which once carried as many as 385 passengers, has been stripped of seats, luggage bins and bathrooms.

There is a ladder leading down to the cargo bay. The white insulation along the bulkheads is stained brown from cigarette smoke — a reminder of a time when smoking was allowed on commercial airliners.