The Antares rocket test launch by Orbital Sciences Corp. has been delayed yet again due to poor weather conditions. The launch has been rescheduled frequently since April 17th due to several complications, including strong winds at NASA’s Wallops Island launch site and a minor equipment malfunction. This time, the launch has been rescheduled for tomorrow, April 21st, at 5:00PM. NASA will provide live coverage of the event beginning at 4:30PM through both its website as well as its TV channel.
Orbital Sciences Corp. planned on launching the rocket on April 17th, but due to a minor equipment malfunction, the launch was delayed until the 18th. A data cable at the upper stage of the Antares rocket detached too early, causing the delay. On April 18th, 19th, and today, the launch was rescheduled over and over due to strong winds present at the launch site. Hopefully tomorrow will be different.
Orbital is trying to test launch the Antares rocket to see if its ready for prime-time. Orbital is one of two companies contracted by NASA to deliver cargo to the International Space Station. It has to complete 8 unmanned cargo missions to the International Space Station using its Antares rocket and Cygnus capsule in order to uphold its $1.9 billion contract. SpaceX, the other company contracted by NASA, has already completed 2 out of 12 of its cargo missions, placing it ways ahead of Orbital.
When Orbital is able to successfully test launch its Antares rocket, it will carry a simulated Cygnus capsule to an altitude of 155 to 185 miles above Earth. It will also launch 4 satellites into orbit. If everything goes as planned, Orbital will be officially launching its Antares rocket with the real Cygnus Capsule come November, with the capsule delivering 5,952 pounds of supplies to the ISS.