After a 24-hour delay due to poor weather, an air-launched Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL rocket fired into orbit at 9:59 p.m. EDT Thursday (0159 GMT Friday) after release from a carrier jet at an altitude of 39,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean northeast of Cape Canaveral. The Pegasus rocket carried NASA’s ICON satellite into orbit to collect measurements of the ionosphere.
After a year-long delay to troubleshoot recurring erroneous data signatures from the rudder of Northrop Grumman’s air-launched Pegasus XL rocket, NASA is eager to send a $252 million research satellite into orbit as soon as Thursday night off Florida’s east coast on a mission to probe the ionosphere, a region near the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space.
A Japanese Epsilon rocket launched Tuesday from the Uchinoura Space Center, a shoreline spaceport on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu, with a space weather research probe to study phenomena inside the turbulent Van Allen radiation belts. Liftoff of the 85-foot-tall rocket occurred at 1100 GMT (6 a.m. EST).
NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory, a $340 million mission that spent more than a decade grounded in a Maryland warehouse, will begin warning forecasters of dangerous solar storms next month, giving notice of events that could disrupt air travel, radio communications, electrical grids and satellite operations.