Last night’s Antares rocket launch has been delayed at the last minute ended everyone disappointed. The official reports revealed that the NASA canceled the launch after a stray boat strolled too close to the launching site.
The Antares’ launch at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility and Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport was originally scheduled for 6:45 p.m. EST last night. Though, the last-minute cancellation disappointed spectators along the Eastern U.S. coast hoping to catch a peek at the rocket as it launched.
NASA tweeted only a few minutes before launch, that they terminated the launch due to a “boat downrange in the hazard area.”
Although, NASA promptly rescheduled the launch at 6:22 p.m. tonight, weather permitting.
Unlike last night, which was clear with perfect weather for a launch, tonight’s forecast calls for cloudy skies. Confidently, though, Antares will still be able to send its Cygnus capsule into space, where it will ultimately rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS).
NASA officials revealed that the Cygnus capsule is carrying over 5,000 pounds of scientific experiments, equipment, food, tools and supplies for the ISS. Antares, and Cygnus, are both owned by a private company Orbital Sciences with which NASA has contracted for ISS supply missions. This will be Orbital Sciences’ 3rd such mission, out of a total of 8.
Cygnus will orbit Earth for about 2 weeks before meeting up with the International Space Station. There, astronauts will grab the capsule with a robotic arm, and pull it in. There, they will unpack it and fill it with trash. After a month, the ISS will release the capsule, where it will return to Earth’s atmosphere, where it will break up.
If you are living near Wallops Island, you still have a good view of the launch, though cloudy skies might impede the view.
For all those living along the U.S. East Coast might catch a glance of the launch, as well. The rocket will look like an orange star with a small tail trailing behind it. Those elsewhere, however, can watch the live broadcast on NASA TV. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. EST.
The International Space Station itself will be visible for a few minutes just before 7 p.m. EST tonight on the U.S. East Coast. The launch sequence should last around 10 minutes, including takeoff and the separation of Cygnus from the rocket.