Spaceflight Insider

‘Off-nominal data’ prompts postponement of ICON launch

Artist's depiction of ICON spacecraft in orbit above Earth. Image Credit: NASA

Artist’s depiction of ICON spacecraft in orbit above Earth. Image Credit: NASA

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 website about human spaceflight called Orbital Velocity. You can find him on twitter @TheSpaceWriter.

Reader Comments

Gotta wonder if this thing is ever going to launch. The curse of Northrop Grumman…

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