Antares Rocket Rolls to Pad as Drenching Rain Delays Cargo Launch to ISS to May 21

Amidst drenching rain the Orbital
ATK Antares rocket has rolled
out and is horizontal on 
pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops
Flight Facility for the 
OA-9 cargo mission launch
to the 
ISS. It briefly peeked out of
the thick ground fog and technicians are readying the rocket for May 21, 2018 night
launch at 4:39 a.m. EDT. Credit:
Ken
Kremer/SpaceUpClose.com/kenkremer.com




Ken Kremer     SpaceUpClose.com     18 May 2018





WALLOPS FLIGHT FACILITY, VA – Orbital
ATK’s Antares rocket loaded with the Cygnus cargo spacecraft destined for the International
Space Station (ISS) has rolled out to the launch pad at NASA’s Wallops Flight
Facility on Virginia’s Eastern shore – even as drenching days of rain forced a days
delay to the nighttime liftoff now rescheduled to Monday, May 21.
Liftoff of the two stage
Antares rocket carrying the Cygnus resupply spaceship is now slated for a 5-minute window that opens at 4:39 a.m. EDT May 21 from
Pad 0A of Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional
Spaceport at Wallops.
Check out our exclusive SpaceUpClose photos of the Antares rocket
resting horizontally at pad OA this afternoon May 18 during a brief break in
the rain and thick ground level fog.
Amidst drenching rain the Orbital
ATK Antares rocket has rolled
out and is horizontal on 
pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops
Flight Facility for the 
OA-9 cargo mission launch
to the 
ISS. It briefly peeked out of
the thick ground fog and technicians are readying the rocket for May 21, 2018 night
launch at 4:39 a.m. EDT. Credit:
Ken
Kremer/SpaceUpClose.com/kenkremer.com
Technicians could be seen actively working  on the Antares
230 launch vehicle
and being maneuvered around on a
cherry picker- see my photos.



The rocket measures
42.4 meters in height and 3.9 meters in diameter.  The Cygnus has a pressurized volume of 27
cubic meters and is 6.39 m in height. It is loaded with 800 kg (1764 lb) of
propellants.  





Amidst drenching rain the Orbital
ATK Antares rocket has rolled
out and is horizontal on 
pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops
Flight Facility for the 
OA-9 cargo mission launch
to the 
ISS. It briefly peeked out of
the thick ground fog and technicians are readying the rocket for May 21, 2018
night launch at 4:39 a.m. EDT. Credit:
Ken
Kremer/SpaceUpClose.com/kenkremer.com


The
much anticipated Antares launch had been set to take off at 5:04 a.m. EDT May
20, but was officially postponed earlier today because of several days of
nearly continuous terrible rain squalls inundating much of the US East Coast
from New York to Florida.
Weather
forecasters say there is an
80-percent probability of
acceptable weather for launch of Antares with Cygnus in the wee hours of Monday
morning.
“Orbital ATK in conjunction with NASA, has moved the Antares and
Cygnus launch to NET Monday, May 21st at 4:39 a.m. EDT to support further
pre-launch inspections and more favorable weather conditions, Orbital SATK said
in a statement. “Monday shows an 80% probability of acceptable weather for
launch.”

The rocket was
rolled out of the Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF) late Thursday, May 17 for
the 1 mile trip from the rocket assembly facility to the OA launch pad at NASA
Wallops
.
The targeted
launch date was adjusted from May 20 to May 21 after the rocket rollout was
completed.
The
Cygnus vessel is jam packed with
over 3.5 tons of science and supplies
bound for the six person multinational crew living and working aboard the million
pound orbiting outpost.
The mission, alternatively
named CRS-9 or OA-9 , is Orbital ATK’s ninth contracted cargo delivery flight
to the International Space Station for NASA.
On board Cygnus
are 7,400 pounds (3,350 kg) of cargo including science experiments, research gear,
food, water, spare parts, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to support the
Expedition 55 and 56 crews
.

Cygnus and Antares inside HIF at NASA Wallops. Credit: NASA

Cygnus will deliver
vital equipment, supplies and scientific equipment to the space station as part
of Orbital ATK’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA.
The prior Cygnus cargo
freighter was successfully launched by an Antares 230 vehicle from Wallops on
Nov. 11, 2017 on the OA-8 resupply mission for NASA .
Among the research experiments
on OA-9 are; the space Sextant Navigation investigation testing use of a
hand-held sextant by astronauts for emergency navigation on missions in deep
space as humans begin to travel farther from Earth; the Cold Atom Lab (CAL) is
a new facility that will create a spot ten billion times colder than the vacuum
of space, and could help us answer some of the biggest questions in physics; and Biomolecule
Extraction and Sequencing Technology (BEST)
, an investigation to
identify unknown microbial organisms on the space station and understand how
humans, plants and microbes adapt to living on the station.

After it departs, Cygnus will also deploy a number of
cubesats from a Nanoracks supplied deployer.

The Cygnus is named the SS J.R. Thompson – after J.R. Thompson, a distinguished leader in the
aerospace industry and a member of the Orbital ATK family.



“Thompson was a distinguished leader in the
aerospace industry who helped shape the strategy and directed the operations of
Orbital ATK’s predecessor company, Orbital Sciences Corporation, for nearly 25
years. Before joining Orbital, Thompson was NASA’s Deputy Administrator from
1989 to 1991,” said Orbital ATK in a statement.  
The cylindrically shaped spaceship will reach orbit some
eight minutes after liftoff and begin an orbital chase
Cygnus will arrive at the ISS on May 24, three days after
launch and a carefully choreographed series of thruster firings.  
“Three NASA astronauts aboard the station will
manage the spacecraft’s arrival,” said NASA. “Expedition 55 Flight Engineer
Scott Tingle will grapple the spacecraft, backed by Ricky Arnold, and Drew
Feustel will monitor Cygnus systems during its approach.”
“They will use the space station’s robotic
Canadarm2 to grab the spacecraft and ground controllers will command the
robotic arm to rotate and install Cygnus onto the station’s Unity module.”

NASA will televise prelaunch science and
mission briefings over the weekend on Saturday and Sunday.







The public is invited to watch the launch for
free from the NASA Wallops Visitor Center which opens at 1 AM on May 21.



Credit: Ken Kremer





“Additional locations for catching the launch
are Robert Reed Park on Chincoteague Island or Beach Road spanning the
area between Chincoteague and Assateague Islands. Assateague Island National
Seashore/Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia will not be
open for viewing the launch,” says NASA.



The launch could be visible to tens of
millions of spectators all along the US East Cost depending on clear weather conditions. 
Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of Orbital ATK, SpaceX,
ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and more
space
and
mission
reports direct from the Wallops Flight Facility, Kennedy Space Center and Cape
Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing
Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com –
twitter @ken_kremer –
ken
at kenkremer.com

Cygnus OA-9 Mission Profile.  Credit: Orbital ATK

Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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