Weather Could Delay NASA Launch of "ICON"

James Marshall
October 10, 2019

NASA's Ionospheric Connection Explorer has been postponed to launch tomorrow night, weather permitting from Florida over the Atlantic Ocean by Northrop Grumman's Pegasus XL rocket.

An unconventional launch is now scheduled Thursday evening off the coast of Daytona Beach after a 24-hour weather delay.

NASA's long-awaited space weather mission is making scientists wait again - ironically, due to terrestrial weather.

Once ICON reaches orbit, it will observe the buffer zone high in our atmosphere called the ionosphere, where Earth weather from below meets space weather from above. "The ionosphere is where we see aurora", said NASA's Nicky Fox. "Aurora is one big sign that space weather is happening".

The ionosphere can be disruptive to radio communications and satellites and astronaut health. "This ionosphere is continually changing and it is very, very dynamic".

The mission has been delayed since 2017 because of issues with the rocket's navigation instruments. There is just a 30 percent chance of favorable weather conditions, according to the 45th Weather Squadron.

The rocket will deliver NASA's ICON satellite to the ionosphere, which up until now has been hard to observe. ICON and Pegasus will take off aboard the company's L-1011 Stargazer aircraft from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida for a 90-minute launch window opening at 9:25 pm (Eastern).

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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