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Long-Delayed ICON Mission Gets New Launch Date

Northrop Grumman's Pegasus rocket hitches a ride on the belly of an aircraft. Photo: Northrop Grumman.

A long-delayed NASA mission to study the ionosphere has a new launch date.

The satellite, called ICON, will study the area of our atmosphere where space weather meets terrestrial weather and help forecast any interference with satellites like GPS.

The ICON mission was set to launch on Northrop Grumman’s Pegasus rocket. It hitches a ride underneath an airplane to about 39,000 feet before being dropped — then the engines fire taking it to space.

An issue with a sensor delayed the mission twice back in November 2018. The rocket was sent to California for tests. NASA said the issue has been resolved and is targeting a new launch date next month.

The aircraft, called Stargazer, will take off from Cape Canaveral and release the Pegasus rocket and ICON satellite for launch over the Atlantic Ocean.

Stargazer and Pegasus will arrive on the Space Coast Oct. 1 with a planned launch date of Oct. 9.

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Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Intersection' Producer

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts "Are We There Yet?", WMFE's space exploration podcast He also helps produce WMFE's twice-weekly public affairs show "Intersection," working with host Matthew Peddie to shape the ... Read Full Bio »