The mission of this spacecraft was to measure meteoroid abundances over the mass range 1.E-7 to 1.E-4 g in the region near the earth. In its stored position with panels folded inside the Apollo service module, the spacecraft was 5.3-m high, 2.1-m wide, and 28-cm deep. It was divided into two major parts, the center section and the wing assemblies. The satellites' framework was made of riveted aluminum alloy extrusions. The central section was attached to the launch vehicle's second stage. It provided a mounting for the deployment mechanism, electronics cannister, solar power panels, and sensors. The spacecraft was equipped with winglike appendages that extended to form a plane 29.3-m long by 4.3-m wide. These wings carried sensitive penetration surfaces for the experiments. Total weight in orbit was 10,500 kg. The NASA Space Tracking and Data Acquisition Network tracked the satellite using the signal of the telemetry transmitter that transmitted continuously on 136.89 megacycles. Optical tracking coverage was provided by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory's Optical Tracking Network and the Minitrack Optical Tracking System. Intermittent failures occurred in the PAM and PCM telemetry channels, but stable PCM communications were reestablished.
This was also a test of the Apollo/Saturn operation and compatibility. The Saturn 1 (SA-8) had a boilerplate Apollo command and service module (BP-26) and a launch escape system tower mounted on top. The boilerplate CSM acted as a shroud to hold the Pegasus satellite. After first stage separation and second stage ignition, the launch escape system was jettisoned. After the second stage attained orbit, the 4400 kg BP-26 was jettisoned into a separate orbit, the Pegasus remained with the second stage in Earth orbit as planned and deployed its winglike panels.