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Friday, 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.

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