NASA WALLOPS FLIGHT FACILITY, VA – The ‘Return to Flight’ blastoff of Orbital ATK’s upgraded Antares rocket will have to wait one more day to come to fruition with a magnificent Monday night launch – after a technical scrub was called this afternoon, Oct. 16, at NASA’s Virginia launch base due to a faulty cable.
The launch potentially offers a thrilling skyshow to millions of US East Coast spectators if all goes well.
Despite picture perfect Fall weather, technical gremlins intervened to halt Sunday nights planned commercial cargo mission for NASA carrying 2.5 tons of science and supplies bound for the International Space Station (ISS).
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The launch of the Orbital ATK CRS-5 mission is now scheduled for October 17 at 7:40 p.m. EDT, from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s picturesque Eastern shore.
You can watch the launch live on NASA TV as well as the agency’s website beginning at 6:30 p.m. EDT Oct 17.
Mondays liftoff is slated to take place approximately 23 minutes earlier then Sunday’s hoped for time of 8:03 p.m. EDT in order to match the moment when the orbital plane of the station passes on NASA Wallops.
The weather outlook on Monday remains extremely favorable with a 95 percent chance of acceptable conditions at launch time.
A nearly full moon has risen over Antares the past few days at the launch pad.
Announcement of the launch scrub of the mission – also known as OA-5 – came just as the six hour countdown was set to begin after engineers discovered the bad cable.
“Today’s launch of Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket is postponed 24 hours due to a ground support equipment (GSE) cable that did not perform as expected during the pre-launch check out,” officials at NASA Wallops said.
The faulty cable was a component of the rocket’s hold down system at the pad, Orbital ATK officials told Universe Today after the scrub was announced.
Technicians have spares on hand and are working now to replace the cable in time to permit a Monday evening launch.
“We have spares on hand and rework procedures are in process. The Antares and Cygnus teams are not currently working any technical issues with the rocket or the spacecraft.”
Besides the cable the rocket is apparently in perfect shape.
“The Antares and Cygnus teams are not currently working any technical issues with the rocket or the spacecraft.”
Antares launches have been on hold for two years after it was grounded following its catastrophic failure just moments after liftoff on Oct. 28, 2014 that doomed the Orb-3 resupply mission to the space station – as witnessed by this author.
Orbital ATK’s Antares commercial rocket had to be overhauled with the completely new RD-181 first stage engines- fueled by LOX/kerosene – following the destruction of the Antares rocket and Cygnus supply ship two years ago.
The 14 story tall commercial Antares rocket also will launch for the first time in the upgraded 230 configuration – powered by new Russian-built first stage engines designed and manufactured by Energomesh.
The 133-foot-tall (40-meter) Antares was rolled out to pad 0A on Thursday, Oct. 13 – three days prior to Sunday’s intended launch date. It was raised to the vertical launch position on Friday.
The two stage Antares will carry the Orbital OA-5 Cygnus cargo freighter to orbit on a flight bound for the ISS and its multinational crew of astronauts and cosmonauts.
The launch marks the first nighttime liftoff of the Antares – and it could be visible up and down the eastern seaboard if weather and atmospheric conditions cooperate to provide a spectacular viewing opportunity to the most populated region in North America.
The Cygnus spacecraft for the OA-5 mission is named the S.S. Alan G. Poindexter in honor of former astronaut and Naval Aviator Captain Alan Poindexter.
Under the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA, Orbital ATK will deliver approximately 28,700 kilograms of cargo to the space station. OA-5 is the sixth of these missions.
Watch for Ken’s continuing Antares/Cygnus mission and launch reporting. He will be reporting from on site at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, VA during the launch campaign.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news.