Orbital ATK Delays Launch of Resupply Mission to Space Station

  • Thrice-delayed liftoff rescheduled for tight window Sunday
  • Launch intended to restart U.S. cargo flights to station

The launch of an Orbital ATK Inc. spacecraft laden with supplies for the International Space Station was scrapped for a third straight day because of strong winds.

The Cygnus capsule is packed with more than 7,000 pounds (3,200 kilograms) of crew supplies, hardware and scientific experiments. It had been scheduled to lift off Saturday at 5:10 p.m. New York time from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and then was reset for 5:33 p.m. before the launch was suspended, according to the Spaceflight Now website.

The launch is now rescheduled for a 30-minute period on Sunday starting at 4:44 p.m. New York time, Spaceflight Now said. Sunday’s weather is forecast to offer a 40 percent chance of allowable conditions for a launch, the website reported.

A successful launch would restart the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s commercial cargo flights to the station, ending its dependence on Russian and Japanese rockets.

U.S. cargo haulers have been grounded for months following a string of accidents. An Orbital rocket exploded seconds into a mission in October 2014. In June, a Falcon 9 rocket launched by Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. blew up en route to the orbiting lab. Orbital has made two successful liftoffs under its 2008 pact with NASA, while SpaceX has completed six. Each operator has had one failed launch.

Orbital is using Atlas V rockets from a joint venture of Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. for two missions while it revamps its Antares rocket, which exploded above a Virginia launch pad last year. The company expects the new rocket to be ready for space flight by the middle of next year.

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