NASA's Long-Delayed Space Weather Mission Just Got Delayed Again

An artist's depiction of the ICON mission in orbit.
An artist's depiction of the ICON mission in orbit. (Image credit: NASA Goddard's Conceptual Image Lab/B. Monroe)

NASA's long-awaited space weather mission is making scientists wait again  —  ironically, due to terrestrial weather.

The agency's Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, spacecraft was meant to launch atop a rocket dropped by a plane this evening. But poor weather near Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida has prompted mission personnel to call for a 24-hour delay.

The new launch window will open tomorrow (Oct. 10) at 9:25 p.m. EDT (0125 GMT on Oct. 11) and last for about 90 minutes. You can watch the launch on courtesy of NASA TV or directly through NASA's website, with the broadcast beginning at 9:15 p.m. EDT (0115 GMT on Oct. 11).

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Today's scrub was not unexpected: the weather office of the Air Force's 45th Space Wing, which monitors conditions for launches from Cape Canaveral, rated the odds of showers interfering with tonight's attempt at 70%.

As of a press conference held yesterday (Oct. 8), those odds for the launch window on Thursday were 40%.

The ICON mission is no stranger to delays: An issue with the rocket built for the spacecraft caused NASA and launch partner Northrop Grumman to delay a flight attempt in October 2018.

The team spent the intervening year conducting a series of tests and adjustments designed to address the anomalous data seen last year. Today was to be the team's first new attempt.

Once ICON is in orbit, it will monitor space weather, a class of phenomena in Earth's atmosphere and neighborhood that can interfere with communications and navigation satellites and pose a threat to astronauts.

Email Meghan Bartels at or follow her @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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Meghan Bartels
Senior Writer

Meghan is a senior writer at and has more than five years' experience as a science journalist based in New York City. She joined in July 2018, with previous writing published in outlets including Newsweek and Audubon. Meghan earned an MA in science journalism from New York University and a BA in classics from Georgetown University, and in her free time she enjoys reading and visiting museums. Follow her on Twitter at @meghanbartels.