Orbital, NASA Confirm New Launch Window For Cygnus Launch
January 9, 2014

Orbital, NASA Confirm New Launch Window For Cygnus Launch

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

UPDATE: January 9, 2014 @ 5:20 a.m.

After a scrubbed launch on January 8 due to the increased threat of radiation from a solar flare that occurred on Jan 7, Orbital Sciences has confirmed that it will move the next available launch window of its cargo resupply mission to Thursday, Jan 9 at 1:07 p.m. EST.

Thursday’s event will be covered by NASA TV beginning at 12:45 p.m. EST with a post-launch news conference beginning at about 2:30 p.m. EST.

The Cygnus cargo spacecraft was originally scheduled to launch from NASA’s Wallops flight facility on Jan 7. However, that initial launch was postponed due to unusually cold weather.

The new launch date would allow Cygnus to make it to the International Space Station early Sunday, Jan 12. NASA TV coverage of the rendezvous and berthing is scheduled to begin at 5:00 a.m. EST on Jan 12.

UPDATE: January 8, 2014 @ 8:00 a.m.

(NASA) Orbital Sciences Corp. scrubbed today's launch of the company's first resupply mission to the International Space Station due to an unusually high level of radiation following yesterday's solar flare. A launch at 1:10 p.m. EST Thursday is still being considered, but no decision has been made.

UPDATE: January 5, 2014 @ 5:10 a.m.

The Cygnus resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) originally scheduled for Tuesday has been postponed due to the threat of cold weather, NASA officials announced on Friday.

The mission, which will be Orbital Sciences’ first commercial resupply mission to the ISS, will now take place no earlier than Wednesday, January 8, the US space agency said. Currently, the launch is set to occur at 1:32 p.m. Eastern time from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

“The forecast for Wednesday also calls for cold temperatures, but the station program and Orbital plan to revisit the weather forecast at the beginning of the week. The main concern with the weather is the cold temperatures coupled with likely precipitation,” NASA explained.

According to Orbital, the Antares rocket has a lower limit temperature constraint of 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If the launch goes forward as planned Wednesday, it will reach the space station on Sunday.

MAIN STORY: December 31, 2013 @ 1:10 p.m.

NASA has scheduled another Orbital Sciences launch aimed at helping to resupply the International Space Station (ISS). On January 7 the company’s Antares rocket will be carrying up its Cygnus cargo spacecraft towards the space station. The Cygnus craft will be filled with 2,780 pounds of supplies for station crew to unload, which includes science experiments, crew provisions, spare parts and experiment hardware.

NASA said that Cygnus will also be carrying up 23 student experiments that will involve more than 10,000 students on the ground. These experiments include life sciences topics as diverse as amoeba reproduction to calcium in the bones and salamanders.

The launch was originally scheduled for the middle of December, but a flow control valve in a pump module on the starboard truss of the space station delayed launch. Expedition 38 crewmembers Mike Hopkins and Rick Mastracchio had to perform spacewalks in order to fix the faulty valve.

The pump module on the ISS is used to circulate ammonia outside of the station automatically. The module ceased operations after it reached pre-set temperature limits in December. The flow control valve regulates the ammonia’s temperature so when it is re-introduced into the heat exchange, it does not freeze the water that also flows through the exchanger.

Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus spacecraft became the second spacecraft to ever dock with the space station back in September. During this flight, Cygnus carried about 1,300 pounds of cargo to crew members aboard the station, including food and clothing. This successful trial led to a $1.9 billion contract between Orbital Sciences and NASA to help resupply the space station.

SpaceX earned itself a similar contract with NASA after it became the first company to dock with the space station in 2012. Elon Musk’s company still has plenty of resupply missions left, but eventually SpaceX will be focusing on transporting crew rather than cargo to the space station.

NASA said Cygnus’ upcoming payload will include vital science experiments that will help expand the research capabilities of the Expedition 38 crew members aboard the orbiting laboratory. Residents around the mid-Atlantic region from New York City to North Carolina will potentially be able to see the launch, weather permitting. NASA also said public viewing of the launch will be available at the space agency’s Visitor Center at Wallops Flight Facility and at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge/Assateague National Seashore.