Stray Boater Delays Antares Launch to Tuesday

A Monday launch attempt for the third Orbital Sciences cargo mission to the International Space Station was scrubbed because a boat strayed into restricted waters southeast of the launch pad at Wallops Island, Virginia. The Antares rocket, carrying the Cygnus capsule would have flown over the boater had the rocket lifted off and officials cited public safety as the reason for the scrub.

Launch has been rescheduled for 6:22 p.m. EDT (22:22 UTC), about 15 minutes after sunset at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, and the Antares blastoff should be visible along much of the US eastern seaboard – stretching from Maine to South Carolina.

The scrub caused disappointment, as the highly-anticipated launch had perfect weather and was expected to be visible to millions up and down the Atlantic shoreline. Photographers had also hoped to capture a spectacular night-time launch with the crescent Moon nearby and the Space Station flying overhead shortly after launch.

Monday’s launch window was only 10 minutes long due to a short opportunity for the spacecraft to reach the space station’s orbit. The boat was said to have a single passenger and was without a radio.

If the weather holds, the launch should still be visible along the Eastern seaboard on Tuesday. See our complete guide to viewing the launch here, and Orbital may provide updated viewing maps here.

NASA Television coverage of Tuesday’s launch will begin at 5:30 p.m. EDT, and you can watch live below. A post-launch news conference will follow at approximately 8 p.m.

The Antares will launch the Cygnus spacecraft filled with over 5,000 pounds of supplies for the International Space Station, including science experiments, experiment hardware, spare parts, and crew provisions. The Orbital-3 mission is Orbital Sciences’ third contracted cargo delivery flight to the space station for NASA.

A Tuesday launch will result in the Cygnus spacecraft arriving at the space station early Sunday, Nov. 2. NASA TV coverage of rendezvous and berthing will begin at 3:30 a.m. with grapple at approximately 4:58 a.m.

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