Antares Rocket Glitch Postpones Launch

The Antares rocket by Orbital Science Corporation didn't leave the launch pad Wednesday after a technical glitch derailed plans.

The rocket was scheduled to launch from the NASA launch facility called the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Wallops Island, Va. at 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT).

Scientists say a type of cable, called an umbilical line, fell away from the rocket about 12 minutes before launch, prompting engineers to abort the test flight.

"You learn a little bit from every launch attempt," John Steinmeyer, a senior project manager with Dulles, Virginia-based Orbital Sciences, said during a NASA TV broadcast. "We'll take the lessons learned from today and move into another attempt as soon as it's safe to do so."

The next launch attempt is targeted for Friday but weather could be an issue. Low-flying clouds could pose a risk of severe weather,  The test flight is a way to see if Orbital Sciences can successfully launch and land a cargo vehicle. During the flight, Antares will deploy a dummy mass of cargo simulating the Cygnus module.  If all goes well, this module will carry the cargo to the International Space Station.

The simulated Cygnus module will separate from the upper stage 10 minutes after liftoff. Also onboard are the Phonesat-1a, -1b, and -1c micro-cube satellites and the Dove 1 satellite.

Orbital Sciences has a $1.9 billion contract with NASA to provide cargo to the ISS. Under the contract, Orbital plans to deliver approximately 20,000 kilograms of supplies and equipment to the ISS over several years. This move would allow Orbital to become another player in the private spaceflight and cargo class. 

Another company, SpaceX has successfully launched, landed and returned several of its Falcon 9 rockets with Dragon modules that delivered cargo to the ISS. The most recent such trip occurred in March.

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