CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP/KDKA) – A bad cable delayed a rocket launch from Virginia on Sunday by a NASA shipper eager to make a strong comeback.
Orbital ATK was poised to fly its Antares rocket with a load of supplies for the International Space Station, after being grounded for two years. But seven hours before the planned liftoff, NASA announced the flight was off until Monday night.
The cable – part of ground support equipment at the Wallops Island launch complex – will be replaced.
This will be the first launch of the unmanned Antares rocket since one exploded shortly after liftoff in October 2014 on a station supply run for NASA. Orbital ATK replaced the Russian-built engines and made other changes to the rocket. In addition, the launch pad had to be rebuilt.
NASA is paying Orbital ATK as well as the SpaceX company to deliver cargo to the station. SpaceX is currently grounded, meanwhile, because of a launch pad explosion last month.
If the Cygnus supply ship launches Monday, it likely would hang out in orbit for several days before arriving at the space station. That’s because of a crew launch from Kazakhstan on Wednesday, which takes priority. Three astronauts will join the three already at the orbiting outpost.
The Cygnus – named after the swan constellation – has the ability to loiter in orbit for a few weeks, even a month if necessary, before joining the space station.
Monday’s liftoff would be at 7:40 p.m.
Ralph Crewe of Carnegie Science Center said the flight path should make the rocket viewable from Pittsburgh.
“It’s supposed to launch at 7:40. And after it launches, you’ll actually have a couple of minutes, about two or three minutes, before it will be visible from here.”
You won’t need a telescope to see it.
“The rocket will appear in the southeastern sky, but it will be very low. It will only be about five degrees above the horizon.”
But Crewe said you still have to get past those Pittsburgh hills if you hope to see the rocket.
“The best thing to do if you want to see it is to find a tall building or hilltop with an unobstructed view, of the southeastern sky.”
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