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11 October 2019

Successful launch of the Pegasus XL/ICON Satellite

After a two-year delay, the ICON satellite intended to study the Earth's ionosphere was finally launched. The new launch date was set for the last 9th of October but weather restrictions scrubbed the attempt one more day.

Stargazer © Northrop Grumman Corporation

Last night, the L-1011 took off from Skid Strip at Cape Canaveral, heading towards the Atlantic Ocean and started its climb to 39000 ft. The typical launch circuit pattern was followed and every parameter was nominal for the launch. Unfortunately, when approaching the launch box (a virtual shaped area from which the launch must take place), communications with Stargazer were lost and the launch aborted. The aircraft had to fly one more circuit which took about 30 minutes, and communications were re-established using a new frequency. At its second attempt, everything went fine and the Pegasus XL rocketed away, delivering the payload to its intended orbit (a LEO - Low Earth Orbit).

The ICON mission was the 44th flight of the Pegasus rocket proving the success of the Stargazer/Pegasus XL airborne launch platform.
For the moment there are no new Pegasus XL missions scheduled.

CS-TMP was finally sunk in the Red Sea, near Aqaba

In April of this year, photos of CS-TMP could be seen with the aircraft laying with its wings clipped, near the waters of the Gulf of Aqaba.

CS-TMP © Fábio Conceição

Information was spread that it was intended to sink the airframe to become an artificial reef and to serve as an attraction to scuba divers. Last 26th of August, CS-TMP was finally sunk with its wings and horizontal stabilizers re-attached.

Several websites covered the sinking of the airplane:

The updated status of ex-Portuguese TriStar fleet is the following:

MSN 1206 euroAtlantic CS-TMX - scrapped at Lisbon (LIS)
MSN 1240 euroAtlantic CS-TEB - stored at Amman (ADJ)
MSN 1241 Luzair CS-TMR - re-registered N91011; stored at Victorville (VCV)
MSN 1248 Luzair CS-TMP - sunk in the Gulf of Aqaba