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Launch of Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket scrubbed in Virginia – Spaceflight Now

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Vapors stream away from a Northrop Grumman Antares rocket throughout a launch try Thursday evening at Wallops Island, Virginia. Credit score: NASA TV/Spaceflight Now

Northrop Grumman known as off the launch of an Antares rocket and a Cygnus area station cargo freighter Thursday evening on Virginia’s Japanese Shore, the third aborted countdown in lower than 24 hours for 3 completely different U.S. rockets.

The countdown at Wallops Island, Virginia, was ticking right down to liftoff of the 14-story Antares launcher at 9:43 p.m. EDT Thursday (0143 GMT Friday) to kick off a two-and-a-half day pursuit of the Worldwide House Station with practically eight,000 kilos of cargo, provisions, and experiments.

However a member of the launch group introduced an abort round 2 minutes and 40 seconds earlier than liftoff. The countdown had encountered a five-minute delay earlier Thursday night that pushed the launch try and the top of the day’s accessible window.

That meant any stoppage within the countdown would mechanically delay the launch to a different day. The launch group started procedures to “secure” the Antares rocket and drain its liquid propellants. The Antares launch conductor instructed the group to tentatively arrange for one more launch try Friday at 9:16 p.m. EDT (0116 GMT Saturday).

Northrop Grumman, lead contractor on the Antares rocket and Cygnus provide ship, tweeted that managers scrubbed Thursday evening’s launch try “after receiving off-nominal knowledge from floor help gear.”

Plans to proceed with one other launch try Friday evening in Virginia hinges on the Antares group resolving the issue that induced the abort Thursday evening.

The Antares rocket’s abort Thursday evening was the third time in lower than 24 hours U.S. rocket launch was halted  moments earlier than takeoff.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch from the Kennedy House Middle in Florida was presupposed to launch at 9:17 a.m. EDT (1317 GMT) Thursday, however the countdown stopped at T-minus 18 seconds as a result of an surprising studying from a floor sensor, SpaceX mentioned.

The Falcon 9 rocket is ready for one more launch alternative this weekend, maybe as quickly as Saturday. It’s set to deploy 60 extra satellites for SpaceX’s Starlink web community.

Simply hours earlier than the Falcon 9 countdown, a United Launch Alliance Delta Four-Heavy rocket was poised to blast off from pad 37B at Cape Canaveral Air Power Station with a labeled spy satellite tv for pc for the Nationwide Reconnaissance Workplace. That launch was additionally aborted, and the countdown stopped seven seconds earlier than the mission’s focused liftoff at 11:54 p.m. EDT Wednesday (0354 GMT Thursday).

Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO, tweeted that the Delta Four-Heavy countdown was halted by an automated sequencer after a “sensor detected a fault” simply earlier than ignition of the rocket’s three predominant engines.

A brand new launch date for the Delta Four-Heavy rocket, which had suffered a number of delays since late August, has not been introduced by ULA. It’s anticipated to be grounded a minimum of a number of days.

SpaceX is making ready one other Falcon 9 rocket for launch throughout a 15-minute window opening at 9:43 p.m. EDT Friday (0143 GMT Saturday) with a World Positioning System navigation satellite tv for pc for the U.S. navy. Preparations for that launch are shifting ahead on pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Power Station.

Assuming Antares launch from Virginia and the Falcon 9 launch from Florida each go forward Friday, the rockets might fireplace into orbit simply 27 minutes aside.

Their flight paths will even intersect, with the Antares launching first towards the southeast from Virginia over the Atlantic Ocean. The Falcon 9’s trajectory over the Atlantic towards the northeast from Cape Canaveral will cross the Antares rocket’s path, however by that point, the Antares will already be in orbit 1000’s of miles away.

The Antares rocket’s mission is to put Northrop Grumman’s automated Cygnus provide ship into orbit on the way in which to the area station. Northrop Grumman is performing the cargo supply mission underneath contract with NASA.

The Cygnus cargo freighter for this mission — the 14th resupply flight to the area station by Northrop Grumman and its predecessor firms — is known as the “S.S. Kalpana Chawla” in honor of the Indian-born American scientist and astronaut who died along with her six crewmates on the area shuttle Columbia in 2003.

The objects stowed contained in the Cygnus provide ship embrace a brand new zero-gravity rest room for the area station, digital actuality digital camera gear for use on a future spacewalk, scientific experiments, and contemporary meals, clothes and different provisions for the astronauts residing on the orbiting analysis advanced.

Assuming the Antares rocket can take off Friday evening, the Cygnus cargo craft is scheduled to reach on the area station early Monday. Astronauts will start unpacking the provision ship as soon as it arrives on the station, the place it’s anticipated to stay hooked up for round two months.

On the finish of the mission, the spacecraft will depart the station to carry out a flame combustion experiment inside its pressurized cabin. Then it’s going to re-enter the ambiance over the South Pacific Ocean and deplete, disposing of a number of tons of trash from the area station.

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Observe Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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