NASA and Orbital ATK have set Oct. 13 as the new launch date for the OA-5 cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station.
NASA and Orbital ATK have successfully completed the Flight Readiness Review in preparation for the launch. The final integration of Antares 230 rocket and Cygnus cargo spacecraft is being carried out in full swing, and the two will be taken to the launch point, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport's Pad 0A on Wallops Island, Virginia at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Oct. 11.
The Antares rocket launch time is set as 9:13 p.m. EDT and can be witnessed along the East Coast if the atmospheric conditions are favorable. Orbital ATK noted in its press release that the launch would take place as scheduled provided all other pre-launch integration processes and testing activities are completed as planned and if favorable weather conditions prevail before and during the launch.
The rocket launch was originally scheduled for a window between Oct. 9 and 13 but has now been extended through Oct. 19, reported Space.com. According to the site, one of the possible reasons why NASA and Orbital ATK scheduled the launch at the end of the previous window instead of the beginning was that Hurricane Matthew is projected to hit the East Coast in the upcoming days and is expected to pass over Wallops Island on Oct. 8.
Cygnus will be carrying about 2,400 kilograms (5,290 pounds) of supplies and science experiments to the ISS for the OA-5 mission. This is in partial fulfillment of Orbital ATK's contract with NASA, in which the company has agreed to deliver about 28,700 kilograms (63,270 pounds) of goods to the ISS. Five such missions have already been completed.
The second part of NASA's Spacecraft Fire Experiment (Saffire) is one of the important things Cygnus will have in its payload. The results of Saffire-II will improve understanding of how fire grows in microgravity and help scientists in designing safeguards for space missions in the future.
Spire CubeSats for obtaining weather data will also be released by a NanoRack deployer. The Saffire-II experiment and CubeSat deployment will be carried out after Cygnus leaves the space station.
According to NASA, Cygnus is expected to arrive at the space station on Sunday, Oct. 16. ISS crew members Takuya Onishi and Kate Rubins will use the space station's robotic arm, Canadarm2, to grapple Cygnus. Ground control will then send commands to guide Canadarm2 into berthing the cargo-carrying spacecraft to the station's Unity module, where it will remain until Nov. 18.
Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center | Flickr