An outstanding mid-air launch of NASA’s latest satellite, intended to study Earth’s upper environment, is again delayed for a period of one week. NASA’s satellite named Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) was planned to launch last week onboard a Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL rocket. This rocket will travel under the plane, and then will be released & launched in the mid-air.
Last week, the L-1011 Stargazer plane and the Pegasus rocket were present at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base. As per previous planning, they were ready for the launch last week. However, one day before launch, NASA announced that it is pushing back the launch date. The space agency added that it wants to carry out additional pre-launch testing on the rocket. NASA also proclaimed that it will announce the updated launch date after completion of all testing procedures.
On a similar note, NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory came into the news as it faced a bounce back because of an error that forced it to go offline about 2 Weeks ago. The reason for this error was an orientation-maintaining gyroscope, whose miss-functioning made the revered space telescope to go into a protective “safe mode” on October 10, 2018. However, the mission team members were successful in establishing a fresh gyroscope configuration, which resulted in resuming Chandra science operations last week.
NASA officials stated in the latest mission update that the team instigated a set of plans to change the orientation and pointing of the spacecraft. All these efforts were carried out to verify that the gyroscopes were working as expected. They added that in the upcoming week, scientists will gather spacecraft data and polish up the performance for the fresh gyroscope configuration. As a concluding step, the team will uplink a software patch to apply any essential amendments to the onboard computer.