Northrop Grumman plans to launch no earlier than Wednesday, Nov. 7, NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer spacecraft aboard the Pegasus XL rocket that will be air-dropped from the L-1011 Stargazer carrier aircraft, Spaceflight Now reported Friday.
Northrop tentatively rescheduled the ICON launch as the company plans to conduct a launch readiness review as early as Monday to further investigate the data signatures identified during the Oct. 19 ferry flight of Stargazer and the rocket to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
“During that flight, we saw some indications that we didn’t like on the control system on the stage 1 motor, and we spent a lot of time troubleshooting that on the ground, and decided to change out some hardware,” said Phil Joyce, vice president of small launcher programs at Northrop’s innovation systems business.
The company conducted a test flight of the aircraft on Oct. 29, Monday, to collect more data on the rocket’s control system.
“It’s just a matter of completing the data review, getting all the stakeholders briefed and up to speed, both internal to Northrop Grumman as well as NASA and our spacecraft customer, and that takes some time,” Joyce told the publication an interview.
Once cleared for launch, Stargazer will take off from Cape Canaveral and drop the rocket at an altitude of 39K feet over the Atlantic Ocean to bring the ICON satellite into orbit.
ICON was set to launch in June, but Northrop postponed the lift-off after it detected a similar issue in the rocket during a ferry flight from Vandenberg to Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.