The Northrop Grumman Antares missile carrying the Cygnus NG-10 cargo ship is at the top of Pad-0A of NASA's Wallops flight on Wallops Island, Virginia. It is scheduled to be released on November 16, 2018.
Credit: Joel Kowsky / NASA
The launch of a Northrop Grumman missile carrying the next NASA cargo flight to the International Space Station was delayed at least one day until Friday (November 15th) due to the bad weather expected to trigger the mission launch facility in Virginia.
A Northrop Grumman Antares missile was scheduled to launch a Cygnus cargo ship early on Thursday, but forecasts forecast a 90% chance of avoiding bad weather, NASA officials said today (November 14th). The launch is scheduled for early Friday at 4:23 am. EST (0923 GMT).
The Cygnus spacecraft is full of 7,500 pounds (3,402 kilograms) of fresh food, experimental equipment and other supplies for the crew of the space station, three-person Expedition 57. [The Strange Science Riding on the Cygnus Spacecraft]
"We have a missile ready to go, a spaceship that is ready to go, but as most of you have heard, the weather will require a 24-hour delay," said Joel Montalbano, NASA Deputy Program Manager for the International Space Station , in a pre-payment notice today.
Thick, low clouds and stormy weather, including lightning, are key concerns for launch, NASA officials said. Stormy seas could also pose a risk for launching support staff off the boats, they added. The weather for launch is improving on Friday, with forecasts predicting a 65% probability of a good weather for the flight. Until Saturday, the chances of good weather increase to more than 95% chance of good weather.
The start delay for Antares and Cygnus creates a congestion in the International Space Station.
About seven hours after the launch of Cygnus, a Russian rocket Soyuz is scheduled to launch another robotic cargo ship, Progress 71, at the station at 1:14 pm. EST (1814 GMT) from Cosmodrome Baikonur in Kazakhstan. Like Cygnus, this cargo ship is also going to arrive at the space station on Sunday. Progress vehicles can land at the space station, while the Cygnus spacecraft has to be captured by astronauts using a robotic arm.
Having two different cargo ships arriving at the space station the same day will lead to a busy hour for astronaut stations, but Montalbano said there is enough space in the crew program for the two arrivals.
"We spoke to the crew about it," Montalbano said. "As far as programming is concerned, because we have not spent 19 hours, we do not see any problems." Dual arrival will require some adjustments to the station's crew work program, but nothing important, he added.
The crew of Expedition 57 is under two people after a Russian rocket Soyuz carrying two associates failed to reach orbit in October. The two flight crew members, NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, made an emergency landing and were not hit. The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, has identified the launch to cancel a defective sensor.
A new Soyuz missile will launch three more members of the Expedition 57 crew to the space station on December 3rd.
You can watch Northrop Grumman's Antares rocket launch live here, starting at 4:15 am (0915 GMT), courtesy of NASA TV.