Pegasus Missions

Mission Update: Pegasus Flight #44 (ICON)


Launch Date:    October 9, 2019

Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

Payload: Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) Satellite

Mission Customer: NASA

Mission Update - September 19, 2019

NASA's Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) satellite will launch aboard our Pegasus rocket on October 9 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Pegasus will be carried aloft by the company's L-1011 Stargazer aircraft. To learn more about the ICON mission, visit NASA's blog here.

About the Mission

The three-stage Pegasus XL will be used to deploy NASA's ICON satellite into a Low-Earth orbit. Pegasus is carried aloft by Northrop Grumman’s Stargazer L-1011 aircraft to approximately 40,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean, where it will be released and free-fall for five seconds before igniting its first stage rocket motor. With its unique delta-shaped wing, Pegasus will deliver this satellite into orbit in a little over 10 minutes.

The ICON satellite was designed, manufactured and tested in Northrop Grumman’s state-of-the-art satellite manufacturing facilities in Dulles, Virginia and Gilbert, Arizona. ICON will study the interface between the upper reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere and outer space in response to recent scientific discovery that the ionosphere, positioned at the edge of space where the Sun ionizes the air to create charged particles, is significantly influenced by storms in Earth’s lower atmosphere. ICON will also help NASA better understand how atmospheric winds control ionospheric variability.

For mission updates, follow us on Twitter @NorthropGrumman and on Facebook. Images of the launch campaign will also be available on our Instagram and Flickr accounts.

About Pegasus

On April 5, 1990, Northrop Grumman began a new era in commercial space flight when our Pegasus rocket was launched from beneath a NASA B-52 aircraft in a mission that originated from Dryden Flight Research Center in California. In the decades since its maiden flight, Pegasus has become the world's standard for affordable and reliable small launch vehicles. It has conducted 43 missions, launching 90 satellites.

This patented air-launch system provides customers with unparalleled flexibility to operate from virtually anywhere on Earth with minimal ground support requirements. Pegasus launches have been conducted from six separate sites in the U.S., Europe and the Marshall Islands, the first time a space launch vehicle has demonstrated such operational flexibility. Pegasus XL is a category 3 NASA-certified vehicle.

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