Orbital ISS Launch Moving to Jan. 8 or 9 in Response to Cold Weather


Orbital Sciences Corp. is re-targeting the launching of its Orb-1 re-supply mission from Virginia's Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport to the six-person International Space Station from Tuesday to Wednesday and possibly Thursday in response to the frigid weather conditions predicted for the U. S. East Coast.

The changes were approved in consultation with NASA's space station program officials, the Dulles, Va., based company said in a statement late Friday. A formal launch readiness review is planned for Monday.

Orb-1, which marks the first mission of an eight-flight, $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract agreement between Orbital and NASA, was to launch prior to Christmas. Orb-1, with its 3,230 pound cargo, was delayed until no earlier than Jan. 7, or Tuesday,  by the Dec. 11 failure of an external ISS thermal control system flow control valve. The valve failure prompted a pair of previously unscheduled NASA spacewalks on Dec. 21st and 24th. Normal operations aboard the orbiting laboratory resumed earlier this week.

The launch period for a lift off of the Antares rocket with its Cygnus cargo carrier from Virginia's Eastern shore on Wednesday extends from 1:32 p.m. to 1:37 p.m., EST. Thursday's launch period extends from 1:10 p.m. to 1:15 p.m., EST.

After dipping below 10 degrees Monday night, temperatures are forecast to hold below 20 degrees Tuesday before rising above freezing on Wednesday, according to The Weather Channel. The warming trend continues.

The Cygnus freighter is scheduled to reach the ISS three days after lift off. Astronauts will be standing by to grapple the capsule with the Canadian robot arm as it rendezvous with the space station. Cygnus will be berthed to the U.S. segment Harmony module.

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