NASA has announced firm-fixed price launch services agreement with Orbital Sciences Corp for the launch of its ICON on board a Pegasus XL air launched rocket. The launch contract is worth circa US$56.3 million. The contract work includes spacecraft processing, payload integration, tracking, data and telemetry and other launch support requirements. ICON – the Ionospheric Connection spacecraft – is also being built by Orbital Sciences Corporation. The mission will study the interface between the upper reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere and outer 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 will also help NASA better understand how atmospheric winds control ionospheric variability.
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