NASA scrubs rocket launch because of nearby plane
NASA scrubs rocket launch because of nearby plane,NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility will try again Sunday to launch a rocket carrying crucial cargo and science experiments to the International Space Station.
The Antares rocket launch was originally scheduled for 7:37 a.m. Saturday. But it was scrubbed after NASA said an aircraft flew into the restricted area.
The next launch effort is set for 7:14 a.m. Sunday.
The supply run is being conducted by Orbital ATK, a private aerospace company based in Dulles, Virginia. It attributed the delay to a “small aircraft” spotted flying at 500 feet about six miles offshore.
“We were working no issues until an aircraft flew into restricted airspace,” the company said on Twitter. “We are currently de-tanking and will be ready to go (Sunday) morning.”
The interior of the rocket was packed to the brim with crew supplies and science experiments weighing a total of 7,400 pounds, the equivalent of three Toyota Corollas.
Hosting its first major mission in more than a year, Wallops attracted the customary crush of visitors. These, given the subfreezing temperatures, were clad in mittens, woolen hats and their heaviest coats.
It was cold even by the standards of rocket science. The launch time temperature was forecast to be 25-30 degrees. If it had fallen to 20 degrees or cooler, engineers may have considered postponing the liftoff to head off the risk of any hardware freezing, an Orbital official said during a Friday press conference.
Little did they know they would be pushing back the launch anyway.
If the October 2016 Antares launch at Wallops marked a litany of firsts, Saturday-turned-Sunday’s is checking off a series of seconds: the second use for Orbital’s RD-181 engines, the second flight since the program’s resurrection in the wake of an October 2014 rocket explosion, the company’s second launch of the year (the other taking place at Florida’s Cape Canaveral).
When it happens, the launch will be Orbital’s eighth launch under its NASA contract, originally valued at $1.9 billion. And it may go down as one of the last to bear the familiar Orbital logo.
In September, competitor Northrup Grumman announced plans to buy Orbital for $7.8 billion.