Northrop postpones Antares rocket launch in Virginia on Sunday

A Northrop Grumman Antares rocket stands ready to launch cargo to the International Space Station on Sunday evening. Photo courtesy of NASA

Feb. 10 (UPI) — Northrop Grumman postponed a cargo capsule launch to the International Space Station from Virginia at 5:44 p.m. EST Sunday.

Northrop launch controllers announced an abort less than three minutes before liftoff was scheduled to occur. A new launch could take place as early as Thursday, officials said.

A NASA spokeswoman said the launch was scrubbed because of “off-nominal data” from ground crews, without further explanation. No new date was set for the launch, as crews were still investigating the problem.

The company’s Antares rocket was prepared to carry the disposable Cygnus capsule on the company’s CRS-13 mission from Pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport.

The capsule was loaded with 8,000 pounds of science experiments, crew supplies and hardware. Live video of the launch showed the rocket against a mostly sunny sky which was turning orange and pink with the sunset.

Launch controllers also had announced a hold at five minutes to launch time, originally set for 5:39 p.m., with no reason given, but they soon returned to the countdown before announcing the abort.

As with all launches to the space station, the launch window was virtually instantaneous, meaning any significant problems mean a postponement to the next day or a future launch date.

NASA said the launch on Sunday, if it had happened, possibly could have been visible to residents throughout the mid-Atlantic region and possibly the East Coast of the United States.

The capsule carries equipment for multiple science experiments. Examples include tissue culturing, a demonstration of a new miniature scanning electron microscope and an experiment to study fires aboard spacecraft.


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