Poor Weather Keeps Antares Rocket Grounded

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Orbital Sciences Corp.,one of two firms hired by NASA to fly cargo to the International Space Station, has rescheduled the debut flight of its Antares rocket from Saturday to Sunday due to unacceptably high winds at the company’s Wallops Island, Virginia, launch site.

Orbital Sciences had planned to launch Antares and a dummy Cygnus cargo capsule on Wednesday, but 12 minutes before liftoff engineers discovered that a data cable on the rocket’s upper-stage had prematurely detached.

NEWS: Antares Rocket Debut Flight Reset for Saturday

Once the 13-story rocket was drained of fuel and the problem repaired, Orbital Sciences was ready for a Friday launch try, but with dismal weather predicted the company decided on Saturday instead.

But that was not to be. Upper-level winds were too high to safely launch the rocket.

“We’ll try again tomorrow,” Orbital Sciences wrote on its Twitter feed.

Orbital Sciences plans to join Space Exploration Technologies in carrying cargo to the space station, a permanently staffed research lab that flies about 250 miles above Earth.

Image: Perched at a new commercial launch pad at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia is Orbital Sciences Corp.’s new Antares rocket. Officials are hoping for a break in the weather to test fly the rocket on Sunday. Credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA