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NASA Awards Launch Services Contract for Ionospheric Connection Explorer

NASA has selected Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Virginia, to provide launch services for the Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) mission.

ICON is targeted to launch in June 2017 from the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands aboard a Pegasus XL launch vehicle from Orbital’s “Stargazer” L-1011 aircraft.

The total cost for NASA to launch ICON is approximately $56.3 million, which includes the firm-fixed launch service costs, spacecraft processing, payload integration, tracking, data and telemetry and other launch support requirements.

ICON will study the interface between the upper reaches of Earth’s atmosphere and space in response to a 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 the lower atmosphere. ICON also will help NASA better understand how atmospheric winds control ionospheric variability.

NASA’s Launch Services Program at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for management and oversight of the Pegasus XL launch services. The ICON mission is led by the University of California, Berkeley, with oversight by the Explorers Program at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

For more information about NASA’s Launch Services Program, visit:

For more information about NASA programs and missions, visit:


Joshua Buck
Headquarters, Washington
George H. Diller
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.