Emerging Tech

Resupply mission to International Space Station aborted due to sensor error

Night at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia
Night at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

A resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) that was scheduled for Sunday, February 9, has been aborted due to an issue with a sensor at the launchpad.

Northrop Grumman were set to launch a Cygnus cargo ship carrying scientific equipment and supplies from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility yesterday, but the launch was halted due to a technical error.

“Northrop Grumman scrubbed tonight’s Antares launch after off-nominal readings from a ground support sensor,” NASA announced in a blog post. The agency did not give more details about the nature of the readings.

NASA did, however, give information about the rescheduling of the launch. Due to forecasts of poor weather at the start of this week, the launch has been rescheduled for this Thursday at the earliest.

“Northrop Grumman and NASA have set the next launch attempt to no earlier than Feb. 13 at 4:06 p.m. EST, due to an unfavorable weather forecast over the next two days, and time required to address the ground support issue,” NASA’s blog post read.

Watch the rescheduled launch live

The rescheduled launch will be shown on NASA TV, so you can watch the event happening live. To watch the launch, use the video link below.

Coverage of the rescheduled launch will begin at 12:30 p.m. PT on Thursday, February 13. The launch is scheduled to begin at 1:06 p.m. PT.

If the launch goes off as planned at the new time, then the Cygnus spacecraft should arrive at the ISS at midnight on Saturday, February 15 to be captured by the station’s robotic arm, and should be installed onto the station at 3:15 a.m. PT.

Changes to future resupply missions

With the recent return to Earth of three astronauts from the ISS, including record-breaking NASA astronaut Christina Koch, and the return of three more crew members planned for this spring, there will soon be only three crew members on board the station. This minimal crew will be in place until October this year, when three more crew members from the new Expedition 63 crew will join them.

This means resupply missions will need to be carefully planned out to allow for the smaller crew on board the space station. NASA may be planning some changes to the way missions are scheduled because of this reason.

“We are discussing the best cadence on which to launch the cargo missions, and one factor is when we’ll have crew members on board,” said Ven Feng, manager of NASA’s ISS Transportation Integration Office, as reported by Space News. “We’re trying to position ourselves to have the most flexibility possible to get the most and highest quality science done as we hope to see our commercial crew vehicle arrive sometime this year.”

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