The second and third stages of the Orbital ATK Pegasus XL rocket were offloaded from a transport vehicle at Building 1555 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Photo credit: Randy Beaudoin
Orbital ATK’s Pegasus XL rocket is being prepared to launch NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON mission. The rocket is being prepared in a facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) in California.
The rocket’s second and third stages, first stage motor and wing arrived at VAFB and were transported to Building 1555 for processing.
ICON will launch aboard Pegasus from the Kwajalein Atoll, part of the Republic of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean, on Dec. 9, 2017 (in the continental United States the launch date is Dec. 8).
ICON will study the frontier of space — the dynamic zone high in Earth’s atmosphere where terrestrial weather from below meets space weather above. The explorer will help determine the physics of Earth’s space environment and pave the way for mitigating its effects on our technology, communications systems and society.
Workers transfer the wing for the Orbital ATK Pegasus XL rocket from a truck to a forklift at Building 1555 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Photo credit: Randy Beaudoin
NASA’s ICON launch now targeted for Oct. 6
NASA and Northrop Grumman are now targeting Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, for the launch of the agency’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON. The spacecraft will launch aboard a Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch window is 90 minutes starting at 4:00 a.m. EDT and ICON will be launching off the coast of Daytona at 39,000 ft. at a heading of 105.0 degrees. The June launch was postponed after off-nominal data was detected during the ferry flight of Pegasus. The root cause was traced to a faulty sensor, which has been replaced.