Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Orbital Sciences delays cargo ship launch by a day

Orbital Sciences' third Cygnus cargo ship is scheduled to launch from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, Wallops Island, Va., on Saturday at 1:14 p.m. EDT.

Weather conditions at Wallops Tuesday night delayed the scheduled rollout of Orbital's Antares rocket to the launch pad Wednesday, prompting the company to delay launch by a day.

Cygnus will be filled with approximately 3,300 pounds of supplies for the International Space Station (ISS), including science experiments, crew provisions, spare parts and hardware.

Among the items headed to the ISS are a flock of nanosatellites designed to take images of Earth, developed by Planet Labs of San Francisco, and a satellite-based investigation called TechEdSat-4 built by NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., which aims to develop technology that eventually will enable small samples to be returned to Earth from the space station. In addition, a host of student experiments are on board as part of the Student Spaceflight Experiment Program, an initiative of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education and NanoRacks.

If Cygnus launches as scheduled, the spacecraft will arrive at the space station on Tuesday. Station commander Steven Swanson of NASA and Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency will be standing by in the station's cupola to capture the resupply craft with the station's robotic arm and install it on the Earth-facing port of the station's Harmony module.

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