The Mission Operations Center (MOC) at UCB’s Space Sciences Laboratory is tasked with operating the ICON mission. The MOC is currently operating THEMIS, ARTEMIS, RHESSI and NuSTAR, all NASA Explorer missions, recently operating the FAST Explorer as well.
For ICON, operations begin early with the integration of the spacecraft at Orbital, where Berkeley operations engineers will work with the spacecraft engineers in all the initial tests and checkout of the bus. This continues with the arrival of the scientific payload, through integration of the full ICON observatory with the launch vehicle. This is exactly how Berkeley has worked with Orbital on NuSTAR, a NASA Small Explorer (PI F. Harrison – CalTech) which UCB is currently operating (quite successfully!)
With launch, ICON will be placed into a 27 degree inclination orbit and communications will immediately be established between ICON and the UCB MOC using TDRSS, the orbiting NASA communications network. Ground contacts are planned and used from then on to command and operate ICON. Ground contacts with ICON are performed mainly from the Berkeley Ground Station, with backup contacts out of Wallops and Santiago.