Home » News & Blogs » Pegasus XL Launches ICON on Mission to Explore Frontier of Space
Bookmark and Share
Parabolic Arc

Pegasus XL Launches ICON on Mission to Explore Frontier of Space

11 Oct 2019, 16:40 UTC
Pegasus XL Launches ICON on Mission to Explore Frontier of Space
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Illustration of ICON spacecraft. (Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Mary Pat Hrybyk-Keith)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — After successfully launching Thursday night, NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) spacecraft is in orbit for a first-of-its-kind mission to study a region of space where changes can disrupt communications and satellite orbits, and even increase radiation risks to astronauts.

A Northrop Grumman Stargazer L-1011 aircraft took off at 8:31 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida carrying ICON, on a Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL rocket, to launch altitude of about 39,000 feet. The first launch opportunity around 9:30 was skipped due to communication issues between the ground team at Cape Canaveral and the aircraft. On the second attempt, the aircraft crew released its payload at 9:59 p.m. EDT and automated systems on the Pegasus rocket launched ICON, a spacecraft roughly the size of a refrigerator, into space.

The spacecraft’s solar panels successfully deployed, indicating it has power with all systems operating. After an approximately month-long commissioning period, ICON will begin sending back its first science data in November.

ICON will study changes in a region of the upper atmosphere called the ionosphere. In addition to interfering ...

Latest Vodcast

Latest Podcast

Advertise PTTU

NASA Picture of the Day

Astronomy Picture of the Day

astronomy_pod