ICON Mission Out of Contact

On Nov. 25, 2022, NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) team lost contact with the spacecraft. The ICON spacecraft is equipped with a built-in onboard command loss timer that will power cycle or reset the spacecraft after contact is lost for eight days. On Dec. 5, after the power cycle was complete, the team was still unable to acquire a downlink signal from the spacecraft. The team is currently still working to establish a connection.

Working with the Department of Defense’s Space Surveillance Network, the team has verified that ICON remains intact.

The ICON mission team is working to troubleshoot the issue and has narrowed the cause of the communication loss to problems within the avionics or radio-frequency communications subsystems. The team is currently unable to determine the health of the spacecraft, and the lack of a downlink signal could be indicative of a system failure.

ICON launched on Oct. 10, 2019, and completed its two-year prime mission science objectives in December 2021. It has been operating in extended mission status since that time.

By Denise Hill
NASA Headquarters, Washington