Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., will postpone by at least 24 hours the launch of its Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft on a demonstration mission to the International Space Station from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia. The new launch window is targeted for Wednesday, Sept. 18 between 10:50 to 11:05 a.m. EDT from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at Wallops. Rendezvous with the space station remains scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 22. NASA Television will air pre- and post-launch news conferences and provide live launch and rendezvous coverage of the mission.
The postponement is due to a combination of Friday’s poor weather, which delayed roll-out of Antares to the launch pad, and a technical issue identified during a combined systems test held Friday night involving communications between ground equipment and the rocket’s flight computer. The problem has been identified and corrected. The teams are working to understand why the problem occurred.
NASA will preview the launch and mission in a news conference at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17, at the Wallops Visitors Center. NASA TV and the agency's website will air the briefing live with question and answer capability available from participating NASA centers or on the telephone. To participate using the phone bridge, which is operated out of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, journalists must call the Johnson newsroom at 281-483-5111 by 1:45 p.m. Questions also can be asked during the briefings via Twitter by using the hashtag #askNASA.
The briefing participants are:
-- Alan Lindenmoyer, program manager, NASA's Commercial Crew and Cargo Program
-- Frank Culbertson, executive vice president, Orbital Sciences Corp.
-- Mike Pinkston, Antares program manager, Orbital Sciences Corp.
-- Sarah Daugherty, test director, NASA's Wallops Flight Facility
NASA TV launch commentary coverage will begin at 10:15 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18. Video b-roll of launch preparations will air at 10 a.m. A post-launch news briefing will begin at approximately 12:30 p.m. at the Wallops Visitors Center. Johnson Space Center will operate a phone bridge for the post-launch briefings. To participate in the briefing by phone, reporters must call the Johnson newsroom at 281-483-5111 at least 15 minutes before the start of the briefing.
The deadline to apply for accreditation to attend the launch has passed.
On Sunday, Sept. 22, NASA Television coverage of rendezvous will begin at 4:30 a.m. and will continue through the capture and installation of the Cygnus spacecraft. Capture is scheduled for about 7:17 a.m. with installation of the craft beginning about 9 a.m.
At about 1 p.m., after Cygnus operations are complete, a joint news conference will take place at Johnson and at Orbital's Headquarters at 45101 Warp Drive in Dulles, Va. The briefing will be carried live on NASA Television and the agency's website. Media may participate by telephone by contacting Johnson's newsroom at 218-483-5111 no later than 15 minutes prior to the start of the briefing. Media interested in attending the briefing in Houston should contact Johnson's newsroom no later than 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20. Media who are U.S. citizens and want to attend the briefing at Orbital should call Barron Beneski at 703-406-5528 or email firstname.lastname@example.org by noon Friday, Sept. 20. Media who are not U.S. citizens must submit their information to Orbital by noon Monday, Sept. 16.
The company's Cygnus cargo carrier will be the first spacecraft launched to the orbiting laboratory from Virginia. The spacecraft will deliver about 1,300 pounds (589 kilograms) of cargo, including food and clothing, to the Expedition 37 crew aboard the space station. Future flights of Cygnus will significantly increase NASA's ability to deliver new science investigations to the nation's only laboratory in microgravity.
Orbital is the second of NASA’s two partners taking part in the agency's COTS program. The goal of this program is to develop safe, reliable, and cost effective cargo transportation systems. Orbital began its work in 2008. Following a successful demonstration mission, the company is poised to begin regular resupply missions. The other partner, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), began its work in 2006, and after a successful test flight in 2012, began flying regular cargo missions to the space station.
During Cygnus' flight to the station, several of the spacecraft's systems and capabilities will be tested. After the space station flight control team has verified the results of these objectives, the spacecraft will be cleared to approach the station several days after launch. Cygnus will undergo more tests and maneuvers and ultimately will arrive beneath the outpost, where astronauts on board will use the station’s arm to capture the craft. They then will install it on the bottom side of the station’s Harmony module.
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For more information about the mission, and for updated schedule of tours, briefings and NASA TV coverage, visit: