After a launch readiness review, mission planners with Orbital Sciences Corporation have opted to delay the first flight of the company’s Cygnus 1 cargo vessel, perched atop their Antares rocket, for no earlier than Sept. 18. The launch window extends from 10:50 to 11:05 a.m. (EDT). This will be the first demonstration mission for Orbital under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) contract with NASA. Launch will occur at Wallops Flight Facility’s Pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS).
The decision to delay the inaugural flight of the Cygnus spacecraft was prompted by a combination of poor weather during the rollout of the Antares rocket on Friday, Sept. 13, as well as a technical issue that was discovered during a combined systems test that was held that evening. The test involved communications between ground equipment and the rocket’s flight computer.
According to a statement issued by NASA, after the team conducted a thorough review Saturday morning, the problem turned out to be an inoperative cable, which has since been replaced. Once the remainder of the test is finished, it is hoped that NASA / Orbital can push forward a launch this Wednesday.
This launch will be a crucial milestone for Orbital as it could see the company completing the $1.9 billion agreement that Orbital has signed with NASA under the agency’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract. Under the contract, Orbital will work to deliver 20 tons of cargo to the International Space Station on eight planned Cygnus flights.