NASA resupply mission to space station postponed


If the five launch delays dating back to May are any indication, engineers are making especially sure everything goes right this time around.

The launch date for this cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS), Orbital ATK-5 (OA-5), has been delayed many times this year.

Orbital ATK's Cygnus spacecraft will also be carrying science experiments, including the second Saffire experiment to light a fire in space. Assateague Island National Seashore/Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia will not be open for launch viewing.

The newly-upgraded Antares 230 rocket, which has been equipped with powerful Russian-made RD-181 engines, was scheduled to launch from pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at 8:51 p.m. EDT Friday, Oct. 14. It will be its first return to flight at Wallops since October 28, 2014, the day that forever changed the program.

"The ability to support a launch will depend on the impact the storm has on not only our systems, but also the overall Bermuda infrastructure", said Steven Kremer, chief of the Wallops Range and Mission Management Office. But there is far more rising on the launch than that.

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Orbital ATK names each Cygnus spacecraft in honor of astronauts and individuals who contributed to the United States' commercial space program. But its other contractor, SpaceX, is grounded, while it investigates how one of its rockets blew up last month.

The Aerosol Sampling Experiment is the first air quality experiment to operate on the space station.

NASA keeps tracking and data-gathering equipment on the island and has had to remove some of its antennas ahead of the storm.

In South Jersey, the best view will be along the shore and the lower Cape, closer to the launch site, where the rocket will reach a higher point in the sky. These secondary payload operations will be conducted after Cygnus departs the space station.