Bad cable de­lays come­back rocket launch from Vir­ginia

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Mar­cia Dunn AP Aerospace Writer

CAPE CANAVERAL, FLA. >> A bad cable de­layed a rocket launch from Vir­ginia on Sun­day by a NASA ship­per ea­ger to make a strong come­back.

Or­bital ATK was poised to fly its Antares rocket with a load of sup­plies for the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion, after be­ing grounded for two years. But seven hours be­fore the planned liftoff, NASA an­nounced the flight was off un­til Mon­day night.

The cable — part of ground sup­port equip­ment at the Wal­lops Is­land launch com­plex — will be re­placed.

This will be the first launch of the un­manned Antares rocket since one ex­ploded shortly after liftoff in Oc­to­ber 2014 on a sta­tion sup­ply run for NASA. Or­bital ATK re­placed the Rus­sian-built engines and made other changes to the rocket. In ad­di­tion, the launch pad had to be re­built.

NASA is pay­ing Or­bital ATK as well as the SpaceX com­pany to de­liver cargo to the sta­tion. SpaceX is cur­rently grounded, mean­while, be­cause of a launch pad ex­plo­sion last month.

If the Cygnus sup­ply ship launches Mon­day, it likely would hang out in or­bit for sev­eral days be­fore ar­riv­ing at the space sta­tion. That’s be­cause of a crew launch from Kaza­khstan on Wed­nes­day, which takes pri­or­ity. Three as­tro­nauts will join the three al­ready at the or­bit­ing out­post.

The Cygnus — named after the swan con­stel­la­tion — has the abil­ity to loi­ter in or­bit for a few weeks, even a month if nec­es­sary, be­fore join­ing the space sta­tion.

Mon­day’s liftoff would be at 7:40 p.m. Weather per­mit­ting, the launch should be vis­i­ble along much of the East Coast, in­clud­ing Wash­ing­ton, New York and Bos­ton.

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