Nov. 7 (UPI) — Northrop Grumman will launch NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer satellite just after 3:00 a.m. EST on Wednesday aboard it’s air-launched Pegasus XL rocket.
Pegasus will be carried by and launch from Northrop Grumman’s Stargazer L-1011 airplane from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
The launch, which will be streamed live on NASA TV, carries the ICON satellite — the 44th launch for Pegasus. NASA announced Tuesday that the weather forecast carries a 90 percent chance for favorable launch conditions.
ICON will study the dynamic zone high in Earth’s atmosphere where terrestrial weather meets space phenomena.
The satellite will monitor the physics of near-Earth space and provide data for stopping its negative effects on technology and communications systems.
ICON is based on the previous LEOStar-2 spacecraft, one of several small satellites Northrop Grumman has launched for NASA in the last two decades.
NASA’s Launch Services Program, which matches spacecraft with launch vehicles, helped supervise the launch. Previous Pegasus missions have launched from five separate sites in the U.S., Europe and the Marshall Islands.
The Stargazer L-1011 is based on the Lockheed L-1011 TriStar commercial airliner, which has been in use since 1974, and was modified in 1994 for air-launched rocket satellite capability.