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Long-delayed NASA science satellite gets October launch date

10 Sep 2019, 20:35 UTC
Long-delayed NASA science satellite gets October launch date
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Technicians extend the solar array on NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, satellite during a deployment test Aug. 10 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Credit: NASA/Randy Beaudoin
The launch of a NASA ionospheric research satellite off Florida’s east coast is targeted for Oct. 10 after persistent technical problems with its air-dropped Pegasus rocket stymied two launch opportunities last year.
The launch campaign for the Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, mission resumed this week.
The first steps were expected to include electrically and mechanically connecting the 634-pound (288-kilogram) ICON spacecraft to the front end of its Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL launcher inside Building 1555 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
In the coming weeks, ground teams inside Building 1555 will encapsulate the satellite inside the Pegasus nose fairing and ready the solid-fueled rocket for rollout to meet an L-1011 carrier jet at the Vandenberg airfield. Technicians will bolt the Pegasus under the belly of the L-1011 jet, which will ferry the rocket on a cross-country flight to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Oct. 1, according to NASA.
After final launch rehearsals and checkouts, the L-1011 will take off from the Skid Strip at Cape Canaveral and head to a ...

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