Need something else to watch after all the results come in? Tonight NASA’s launching a mission to explore Earth’s ionosphere, but this isn’t the average rocket launch. The Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) will take off on a Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL rocket — in use since the 90s, and scheduled for use with the giant Stratolaunch once that’s ready to fly — that’s being dropped from a specially designed plane at about 40,000 feet over the open ocean.
Dubbed Stargazer L-1011, the carrier aircraft will take off from Cape Canaveral ahead of a 90-minute launch window that opens at 3 AM ET. As Space.com notes, the launch has been delayed over concerns about the rocket, but all the testing is complete and now it’s ready to fly.