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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: © 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 Space.com 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).

Related: Gravity Assist Podcast: Solar Storms, with Alex Young

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 mbartels@space.com or follow her @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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