A NASA mission to elevate a satellite from an aircraft to investigate the atmosphere of the Earth at the edge of space has been delayed for at least one day due to a failure with its rocket just before launch on early Wednesday ( November 7) was detected.
The Stargazer L-1011 platform with NASA & # 39; s Ionospheric Connection Explorer satellite, or ICON, had already taken off from the staging at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station when a problem was discovered on the Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL rocket. satellite from the air at 03.05 am EST (0705 GMT). The next launch opportunity for ICON is on Thursday (November 8), NASA officials said.
"NASA and Northrop Grumman have scrapped today's launch of #PegasusXL because of the non-nominal data received during the captive carry flight," representatives of Northrop Grumman, who built the rocket, said in a Twitter update after the scrub launch. The L-1011 Stargazer aircraft has returned to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and an investigation into the anomaly will soon begin, she added.
The start-up scrub is the latest in a series of delays for the ICON mission of the past year. The satellite was originally scheduled for a launch on December 8, 2017, before missile impressions forced NASA to postpone it until deep into 2018. The initial launch plan for ICON called for the launch of the Stargazer L-1011 of a US military base on the Kwajalein Atoll on the Marshall Islands of the Pacific. After the first delays last year, NASA relocated the staging for the launch to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
NASA & # 39; s ICON satellite is in good health as engineers assess the problem with its Pegasus XL booster, said Northrop Grumman representatives.
ICON is a $ 252 million mission to study the earth's ionosphere, a level of the Earth's upper atmosphere ionized by the sun's rays, like never before. The satellite will rotate around 360 miles (575 km) above the earth and use four different instruments to track how the earth's winds and the solar wind form the ionosphere covering a region about 50 to 400 miles (80 to 645 km) above the earth. planet. Scientists hope that the spacecraft will help understand how those winds affect the communication and GPS signals we send through the ionosphere, as well as the satellites and spacecraft in a low orbit around Earth (such as the International Space Station) that parts of the atmospheric layer fly, NASA officials said.