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Bad Weather Forces NASA, Northrop Grumman to delay load launch to space station

The launch of a Northrop Grumman rocket carrying NASA's next cargo flight to the International Space Station has been delayed…

The launch of a Northrop Grumman rocket carrying NASA’s next cargo flight to the International Space Station has been delayed at least one day to Friday (Nov. 15) due to of bad weather expected to pummel mission’s seaside launch site in Virginia.

A Northrop Grumman Antares rocket was scheduled to launch an unscrusted Cygnus cargo ship early Thursday, but forecasts predicted a 90 percent chance of bad weather preventing flight, NASA officials said today (November 14). The launch is now scheduled early Friday at 04:23 EST (0923 GMT).

Cygnus spacecraft is filled with 7,500 pounds (3,402 kg) of fresh food, experimental equipment and other goods for the space station’s tripod Expedition 57 crew. [The Strange Science Riding on the Cygnus Spacecraft]

“We have a ready-to-go rocket, a spacecraft ready to go, but as most of you have heard, the weather will require a day delay,” said Joel Montalbano, NASA’s deputy Program Director for the International Space Station, in a prelaunch briefing today.

Thick, low clouds and stormy weather, including lightning, are the main concern for launch, NASA officials said. Stormy seas can also pose a danger to launch support staff in offshore vessels, they allow. The weather conditions for launch will improve on Friday, with forecasts that assume a 65-percent chance of good weather for the flight. By Saturday, these good weather odds increase to more than 95 percent chance of good conditions.

A day delay delay for Antares and Cygnus sets up a traffic jam of varieties at the International Space Station.

About seven hours after the Cygnus launch, a Russian Soyuz rocket is planning to launch another robot vessel, known as Progress 71, to the station at 1:14. EST (1814 GMT) from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Like Cygnus, it is also planned that the cargo ship arrives at the space station on Sunday. Propulsion vehicles can dock at the space station, while Cygnus spacecraft must be captured by astronauts using a robotic arm.

With two different cargo ships arriving at the space station on the same day, it will lead to a busy time for the station’s astronauts, but Montalbano said there is plenty of room in the crew schedule for both arrivals.

“We’ve talked to the crew about it,” Montalbano said. “Regarding scheduling, since they are 19 hours apart, we see no problems.” Double arrival will require some adjustments to the station staff’s work schedule, but nothing great, he added.

The Station Expedition 57 crew is down two people after a Russian Soyuz rocket with two crew members failed to reach orbit in October. The two crew members on that flight, NASA astronaut Nick Haag and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin made an emergency landing and were unscathed. Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, has tracked the launch canceled to an incorrect sensor.

A new Soyuz rocket launches three expedition 57 crew members to the space station on December 3.

You can watch Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket launch live here, starting at 16:15 EST (0915 GMT), licensed by NASA TV.

Email Tariq Malik at [email protected] or follow him @tariqjmalik . Follow us @Spacedotcom and Facebook . Original article on Space.com .

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