‘Off-nominal data’ prompts postponement of ICON launch
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The flight of NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) was scrubbed less than 30 minutes before its planned launch via Northrop Grumman’s air-dropped Pegasus XL rocket.
The Lockheed Martin L-1011 carrier aircraft took off from the Skid Strip runway at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in the early-morning hours of Nov. 7, 2018, and began its trek toward the drop zone over the Atlantic Ocean just east of Daytona Beach, Florida, for a 3:05 a.m. EST (8:05 GMT) launch. Soon after, an issue was discovered and the aircraft returned to the Skid Strip.
“NASA and Northrop Grumman have postponed today’s launch attempt of NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, mission due to off-nominal data observed on the Pegasus XL rocket, during the captive carry flight,” a NASA statement reads.
NASA said the ICON spacecraft remains healthy and the launch team is evaluating the next launch attempt. The next available window opens at 3 a.m. EST (8:00 GMT) Nov. 8. Once aloft and in an expected low-Earth orbit of 357 miles (575 kilometers), the 633-pound (287-kilogram) spacecraft is designed to study Earth’s ionosphere and how terrestrial weather interacts with space weather.
Derek Richardson has a degree in mass media, with an emphasis in contemporary journalism, from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. While at Washburn, he was the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also has a blog about the International Space Station, called Orbital Velocity. He met with members of the SpaceFlight Insider team during the flight of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 551 rocket with the MUOS-4 satellite. Richardson joined our team shortly thereafter. His passion for space ignited when he watched Space Shuttle Discovery launch into space Oct. 29, 1998. Today, this fervor has accelerated toward orbit and shows no signs of slowing down. After dabbling in math and engineering courses in college, he soon realized his true calling was communicating to others about space. Since joining SpaceFlight Insider in 2015, Richardson has worked to increase the quality of our content, eventually becoming our managing editor. @TheSpaceWriter