Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Antares/Cygnus launch delayed

Rough space weather forced Orbital Sciences to postpone Wednesday's launch of its unmanned Cygnus spacecraft on its first regular contract flight to supply the International Space Station. The Cygnus spacecraft had been set to take off from Wallops Island, Va., atop an Antares rocket. But a solar flare caused increased levels of space radiation that might have damaged the spacecraft's electronics. Orbital has a contract with NASA worth $1.9 billion for eight cargo resupply missions to the ISS. Orbital and SpaceX, both private companies, stepped in to ensure the United States' ability to reach the ISS after the retirement of the space shuttle program in 2011. The launch will mark the company's second trip to the ISS. There was a successful demonstration launch in September. (Sources: Space Travel, NASA Spaceflight, 01/08/14) Gulf Coast note: The Antares AJ26 engines are tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss. Previous