NEW LAUNCH DATE SET – (NASA WALLOPS): The launch of the Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility scheduled for Saturday, April 20 was scrubbed because of strong upper-level winds. The next launch attempt will be at 5 p.m. Sunday, April 21.
An attempt Friday was also called off after review of the weather.
For an updated briefing and NASA TV coverage schedule, follow:
THURSDAY MORNING UPDATE 10:44AM (NASA WALLOPS): Orbital Sciences Corporation confirmed a premature separation of a launch pad umbilical connection to its Antares rocket’s upper stage used for data communications halted Wednesday’s countdown of the Antares test launch. Engineers currently are analyzing what occurred to determine what measures will be taken to resolve the issue.
During a launch countdown, safeguards are put in place to periodically verify all systems are functioning as planned. With twelve minutes left in the count, the launch team identified the anomaly and called a scrub of Wednesday’s test launch attempt.
The next launch attempt from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va. is tentatively set for no earlier than Friday, April 19, pending final resolution of the issue and acceptable weather conditions. The team is targeting a 5:00 p.m. EDT launch.
UPDATE. RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – The biggest rocket ever launched from Virginia was slated to take off from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore Wednesday at 5 p.m.
One of the cords on the second stage just prematurely disconnected. No official announcement on the next launch window.
Orbital Sciences Corp. plans to launch its Antares rocket from Wallops on Wednesday, April 17 at 5 p.m. (Please note: the exact time of launch is subject to change!) If the weather is mostly clear and the launch goes off as scheduled without any technical problems or interference from water vessels trespassing into the launch zone, you will be able to look east and up to see this.
However, low clouds may scrub Wednesday’s launch from Wallops. There is also the chance for widely scattered showers and thunderstorms Wednesday afternoon and evening. The good news is that Wednesday’s launch window lasts until 8 p.m., and there will be further launch opportunities between April 18 through 21.
NASA TV will carry the launch live, beginning at 4 p.m. Wednesday here: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv
Everyone within the biggest circle on this map (with good visibility) will be able to see the Antares rocket carrying the spacecraft Cygnus soaring into orbit. It will be big, bright and easy to spot. Look low on the horizon for the light and trail.
This is a test launch, meaning the Cygnus spacecraft will not dock with the International Space Station. But this flight is the final step to prove it is capable of launching successfully and entering orbit.
Orbital Sciences Corp. is one of a number of private space companies partnering with NASA under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. “NASA initiatives like COTS are helping develop a robust U.S. commercial space transportation industry with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from the space station and low-Earth orbit,” says Rebecca Powell at NASA Wallops.
If Orbital’s test launch is successful, then they will work toward a targeted supply mission to the International Space Station later this year (launch date not announced yet).
For more information on the launch, Wallops, and NASA initiatives like COTS, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/wallops/missions/antares.html.
You can learn more about Antares and its Cygnus spacecraft here: http://www.orbital.com/Antares-Cygnus/files/AONE-Mission-Overview.pdf