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Antares rocket launch from Wallops Island postponed

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Antares rocket launch from Wallops Island postponed

There is a 5 minute launch window.

Technicians have spares on hand and are working now to replace the cable in time to permit a Monday evening launch.

Sunday's problem involved a cable that did not function properly, according to Orbital ATK, the private aerospace firm that is NASA's partner in the cargo mission.

Orbital ATK representatives in Wallops Island told 11 News that they are expecting a flawless launch. The company, which was then called Orbital Sciences, merged with Alliant Techsystems to create a new company called Orbital ATK. This resupply mission marked the first flight of the upgraded Antares 230 vehicle, and the first launch from Wallops since an Antares rocket and its Cygnus resupply vehicle were lost seconds after lift-off in October 2014. The stakes were high Monday because SpaceX, NASA's other commercial launcher of station cargo, is investigating a Falcon 9 rocket's September 1 launch pad explosion, and it's unclear how soon it will fly again. Following the 2014 failure, the company launched two missions from Cape Canaveral in Florida while repairs were made to the Virginia facility. The goal of the mission is to bring supplies to the current ISS crew composed of Commander Anatoly Ivanishin, Kate Rubins, and Takuya Onishi.

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NASA has also signed contracts with SpaceX and Boeing to begin launching astronauts to space in the next two years. The remaining two are set to fly sometime in 2017 and 2018.

The launch is now scheduled for Monday at 7:40 p.m.

This is the beginning of a busy two-week period at the ISS. A few days prior, Hurricane Nicole prompted a scrub of Thursday's (Oct. 13) planned launch as the Category 1 storm shut down Orbital ATK's tracking station in Bermuda. The Cygnus is carrying about 5,300 lb (2,400 kg) of cargo and the capsule is named after the late Alan Poindexter, who was a NASA astronaut, Space Shuttle commander, and naval aviator, and who helped in the construction of the station.

No technical issues were discovered with the rocket or the onboard spacecraft, NASA said. For the first time, they will be released from an altitude above the ISS, providing a longer orbital lifetime. During the capsule's return to Earth, scientists plan to ignite nine different materials commonly used on the station to study how flames spread in a micro-gravity environment.

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