The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Solar Orbiter spacecraft arrived at the Launch and Landing Facility, formerly known as the Shuttle Landing Facility, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard an Antonov cargo plane from Munich, Germany, on Nov. 1. Upon arrival at the Florida spaceport, the spacecraft was offloaded and transported to the Astrotech Space Operations facility in nearby Titusville, where it will spend the next few months undergoing final preparations, tests and checkouts for liftoff.
Solar Orbiter is an ESA mission that will study the Sun, its outer atmosphere and solar winds. Using high spatial resolution telescopes, the spacecraft will observe the Sun’s atmosphere up close and compare these observations with measurements taken around the spacecraft. Due to its unique orbit, Solar Orbiter will provide the first images of the Sun’s poles. NASA’s Launch Services Program based at Kennedy is managing the launch.
Although developed independently, ESA’s Solar Orbiter and NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, which launched Aug. 12, 2018, are natural teammates. Solar Orbiter’s comprehensive science instruments and unique orbit will help scientists place NASA’s Parker Solar Probe’s measurements in context. By working together in this way, the two spacecraft will collect complementary data sets allowing more science to be gathered from the two missions than either could manage on its own.
The spacecraft’s mission to the Sun is planned for launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V-411 rocket from SLC-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Feb. 5, 2020, at 11:15 p.m. EST.
A Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL rocket launched NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, satellite at 9:59 p.m. EDT on Oct. 10 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) to study the dynamic zone in our atmosphere where terrestrial weather from below meets space weather from above.
The satellite was attached to the Pegasus XL rocket, which hitched a ride on the company’s L-1011 Stargazer aircraft. Once the aircraft reached an altitude of 39,000 feet, the rocket was dropped, with ignition occurring five seconds after.
ICON is expected to improve the forecasts of extreme space weather by utilizing in-situ and remote-sensing instruments to survey the variability of Earth’s ionosphere. The mission also will help determine the physics of our space environment, paving the way for mitigating its effects on our technology, communications systems and society.
The Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) will launch tonight on a Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL rocket from the company’s Stargazer L-1011 aircraft. The Stargazer will take off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 8:33 p.m. EDT.
The first launch attempt for ICON is 9:30 p.m. EDT. Follow live coverage here on the blog as well as on NASA TV and on the web at http://nasa.gov/live beginning at 9:15 p.m. EDT.
NASA and Northrop Grumman will hold a mission briefing at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 1 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, Oct. 8, in preparation for the launch of NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) satellite. Tune in to NASA TV and the agency’s website to watch the mission briefing live.
The Northrop Grumman L-1011 Stargazer aircraft, carrying a Pegasus XL rocket with the agency’s ICON satellite, will take off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Skid Strip on Oct. 9. The launch window will be open from 9:25 to 10:55 p.m., with a targeted release at 9:30 p.m. Ignition of the Pegasus XL rocket will occur five seconds after release from the Stargazer.
ICON is designed to study the frontier of space: the dynamic zone high in our atmosphere where terrestrial weather from below meets space weather above.
Be sure to follow our blog for launch updates. Live launch coverage here and on NASA TV will begin at 9:15 p.m. on Oct. 9.
NASA and Northrop Grumman coordinated with the U.S. Air Force Eastern Range for an earlier launch date for the agency’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, spacecraft from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. ICON is now targeted for launch on Oct. 9, 2019, aboard a Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL rocket carried by the company’s L-1011 Stargazer aircraft.
NASA and Northrop Grumman currently are preparing the agency’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON spacecraft, and the Pegasus XL rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for ferry to the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida by the L-1011 Stargazer aircraft on Oct. 1, 2019. The launch has been rescheduled to Oct. 10, 2019, following the completion of a joint NASA/Northrop Grumman investigation into a Pegasus sensor reading that was not within normal limits during previous ferry and launch attempt flights. The cause of the issue is understood, and the flight hardware has been modified to address the issue. Two L-1011 flights with Pegasus were conducted to verify the effectiveness of the modification with no issues. Functional tests are being performed on NASA’s ICON spacecraft, which utilizes Northrop Grumman’s LEOStar-2 platform, to ensure that the ICON spacecraft is ready for the upcoming integration activity, ferry flight and launch. As always, mission success for Pegasus and ICON is the top priority.
NASA and Northrop Grumman will hold a Launch Readiness Review at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 9 a.m. EST Tuesday, Nov. 6, to ensure preparations are on track for launch of NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) satellite.
ICON is scheduled to launch Wednesday, Nov. 7, by Northrop Grumman’s Pegasus XL rocket, which will be carried aloft by the company’s L-1011 Stargazer aircraft taking off from the Skid Strip at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The 90-minute launch window opens at 3 a.m., with a targeted release at 3:05 a.m. Ignition of the Pegasus XL rocket occurs five seconds after release from the Stargazer.
ICON is designed to study the dynamic zone high in the atmosphere where terrestrial weather from below meets space weather from above.
NASA and Northrop Grumman will hold a Launch Readiness Review early next week at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to ensure preparations are continuing on track for the launch of the agency’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, satellite.
ICON will be launched by Northrop Grumman’s Pegasus XL rocket which will be carried aloft by the L-1011 Stargazer aircraft taking off from the Skid Strip at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The ICON satellite mission is expected to launch no earlier than Wednesday, Nov. 7 with a 90-minute launch window opening at 3 a.m. EST. Release from the Stargazer is anticipated for 3:05 a.m. ICON is designed to study the dynamic zone high in the atmosphere where terrestrial weather from below meets space weather from above.
Tuesday, Nov. 6 3 p.m. – NASA EDGE webcast from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station will discuss ICON spacecraft operations, science and engineering, as well as launch processing of the Northrop Grumman L-1011 Stargazer with the Pegasus rocket.
NASA’s ICESat-2 spacecraft deployed its four solar panels and is drawing power, indicating it is healthy upon its arrival in orbit. The spacecraft launched on the final flight of the United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, lifting off from Space Launch Complex-2 at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base at 6:02 a.m. PDT (9:02 a.m. EDT).
Ground stations in Svalbard, Norway, have acquired signals from the spacecraft. It is performing as expected and orbiting the globe, pole to pole, at 17,069 mph from an average altitude of 290 miles.
NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2, or ICESat-2, a mission to measure the changing height of Earth’s ice, is scheduled to launch Saturday, Sept. 15, with a 40-minute window opening at 5:46 a.m. PDT (8:46 a.m. EDT). The spacecraft will lift off from Space Launch Complex 2 (SLC-2) at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on the final launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket. The U.S. Air Force 30th Space Wing weather officer reported they are predicting a 100 percent chance of favorable weather on launch day.
Be sure to follow along during the live coverage events below.