Another step closer to launch

ICON passes pre-environmental review

Karin Hauck 0 789

After passing its "Pre-Environmental Review” last week, the ICON spacecraft/observatory is now in environmental testing at Orbital ATK in Gilbert, AZ. We will run a number of tests -- such as vibration and acoustical tests -- over the following weeks that will simulate the launch and space environments that ICON will be exposed to. All the instruments continue to check out well, and we’re getting a lot of time on the observatory. All this testing and reviewing shows us that ICON is in great shape and will be ready to go when launch day arrives this summer. It’s all coming together!

2016 will be an exciting year for the ICON mission

Claire Raftery 0 1620

2016 will be an exciting year for the ICON mission. This year will see the assembly and test of the complete scientific payload (the collection of instruments and telescopes ICON will carry), the completion of the spacecraft (the main body of the satellite), and when these come together, the assembly and test of the full ICON observatory.

Over the next two months, all of the ICON instruments, the Instrument Control Package (ICP), and other key components will be delivered to the Space Dynamics Laboratory (SDL) in Utah for integration into the payload. Once integrated into a single payload package, it will undergo specialized vibration and vacuum tests to simulate the conditions of launch and operations on orbit.

Once the payload performance has been confirmed, the payload package will be delivered to Orbital ATK in Virginia, who are building the main body of the spacecraft, called the “bus”. Delivery is planned for mid-year, which will give Orbital ATK ample opportunity to test the entire observatory and prepare it for integration with the Pegasus launch vehicle in Spring of 2017.

Meanwhile, the science team will be busy completing the software needed to download and manipulate the data taken by ICON’s instruments to prepare the data pipeline for receipt of real (rather than simulated) data soon after launch in June of 2017.

Follow the mission’s progress at http://icon.ssl.berkeley.edu/News/Blog or on twitter @NASASunEarth

Pegasus Selected for ICON Launch

Claire Raftery 0 1181

The Orbital Pegasus launch system was selected by NASA Launch Services to carry ICON into orbit. ICON will be launched over the Pacific Ocean after taking off from Kwajalein Atoll on the Orbital L-1011 that is part of the Pegasus launch system. Some pictures and discussion of the launch system can be found here. Here’s a synopsis of the launch system.

It’s a great way to get to space, used successfully by many Explorers in the past.

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ICON skin is based on Greytness by Adammer
Background image, courtesy of NASA, is a derivitave of photograph taken by D. Pettit from the ISS, used under Creative Commons license