Antares rocket launch from Va. postponed to Monday

The Sunday launch of Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket was postponed 24 hours because a cable did not perform as expected during a pre-launch check, according to a release from NASA.

Spare cables were available and being used to fix the problem with the ground support equipment, according to NASA. The Antares and Cygnus teams were not working on any technical issues with the rocket or the onboard spacecraft.

The launch, rescheduled for Monday at 7:40 p.m. ET, marks the first time in two years an Antares rocket is poised to blast off from Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

The redesigned rocket, now powered by a pair of Russian RD-181 main engines, will boost into space an unmanned Cygnus cargo module carrying nearly 5,300 pounds of food, equipment and experiments to the International Space Station.

The last time an Antares lifted off from Wallops Island, on Oct. 28, 2014, its flight was short-lived.

The rocket rose briefly, then fell back to the ground with a tremendous explosion after a failure by decades-old Russian engines that had been refurbished.


Since then, Orbital ATK launched two Cygnus mission's from Cape Canaveral in Florida on United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket. The stakes are high again because SpaceX, NASA’s other commercial launcher of station cargo, is investigating a Falcon 9 rocket’s Sept. 1 launch pad explosion, and it’s unclear how soon it will fly again.

The Antares launch was delayed a few days when Hurricane Nicole threatened a Bermuda tracking station, which suffered only minor damage.

Follow James Dean on Twitter: @flatoday_jdean


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