Poor Weather Postpones Pegasus Launch of NASA ICON Science Probe to Oct. 10: Watch Live

Poor Weather Postpones Pegasus Launch of NASA ICON Science Probe to Oct. 10: Watch Live
Up Close full view of Northrop Grumman’s air-launched Pegasus XL rocket containing NASA’s ICON satellite which is attached to the belly beneath the company’s L-1011 Stargazer aircraft that will deploy the probe at 39,000 feet.  File photo from the prior launch attempt as it sat on the runway at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Skid Strip, FL, on Nov. 2, 2018. Launch took place Oct. 10, 2019. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER & CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, FL – After poor Space Coast weather postponed the launch of NASA’s new science mission to study the Earth’s ionosphere – the tenuous upper atmospheric layer at the ‘frontier of space’ forming the dynamic boundary where Earth’s weather meets space weather – known as ICON by 24 hours, the air-drop launch of the Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL carrier rocket from the last flying L-1011 Stargazer has been rescheduled to this evening Thursday,  Oct. 10  from Florida.

Hopefully all goes well this evening following a 1 year delay after a last minute scrub of the air launched Pegasus XL rocket due to issues then unresolved with the rockets ability to successfully carry ICON to orbit.

ICON is attached to the belly of the Stargazer airplane.

Fortunately, the weather outlook is much better today October 10 at 70% GO vs. 70% NO GO unfavorable yesterday October as outlined at Tuesday’s prelaunch briefing at the Kennedy Space Center.

As currently planned the ICON satellite mission is expected to launch tonight, Thursday, October 10, 2019 with a 90-minute launch window opening at 9:25 p.m. EDT (0125 GMT). Release from the Stargazer is anticipated for 5 minutes later at 9:30 p.m. EST, says the team.

The launch event begins with takeoff of the Stargazer at 8:30 p.m. EDT.

NASA TV will broadcast the launch live starting at about 9:15 a.m. EDT, Watch the launch on : NASA TV and the agency’s website

A back up launch opportunity exists on Oct. 10 during the same 90-minute-long window. 

Northrop Grumman’s L-1011 Stargazer aircraft is on the runway at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Skid Strip, FL on Oct. 8, 2019. The company’s air-launched Pegasus XL rocket, containing NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, satellite is attached to the belly beneath the aircraft as ground crews prepare for launch Oct. 10. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
The refrigerator-sized ICON weighs 634 pounds (288 kg) and measures 76 inches long and 42 inches wide. 

For complete details about ICON read our preview story here. 
Watch for our post launch story reporting from onsite at KSC ad Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. 
Up Close full view of Northrop Grumman’s air-launched Pegasus XL rocket containing NASA’s ICON satellite which is attached to the belly beneath the company’s L-1011 Stargazer aircraft that will deploy the probe at 39,000 feet.  File photo from the prior launch attempt as it sat on the runway at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Skid Strip, FL, on Nov. 2, 2018. Launch now reset to Oct. 10, 2019. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Enjoy our Space UpClose photo gallery of ICON, Pegasus XL rocket and L-1011 Stargazer direct at the Skid Strip. 

The media and Space Up Close participated in a tour of the rocket and L-1011 carrier aircraft at the Skid Strip launch site on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Tuesday, Oct. 8 as well as last year. 

Up Close view of Northrop Grumman’s air-launched Pegasus XL rocket containing NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, satellite which is attached to the belly beneath the company’s L-1011 Stargazer aircraft that will deploy the probe at 39,000 feet.  Here it sits on the runway at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Skid Strip, FL, on Oct. 8, 2019. Launch NET Oct. 9, 2018. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Overall this mission marks the 44th launch of Pegasus XL since the maiden flight in 1990.The last Pegasus launch took place in December 2016 for the launch of NASA’s $157 million hurricane forecasting mission CYGNSS. Space UpClose was on hand – my photos below.

Pegasus XL was the world’s first air-launched rocket launching satellites to orbit. It utilizes the L-1011 carrier aircraft as an “air-breathing reusable first stage” according to Northrop Grumman.

ICON is a NASA Explorer class mission managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD.

The Northrop Grumman team told me they hope to win contract to launch additional Pegasus rockets and have parts for about one and a half rockets in inventory. 

Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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