Rogue aircraft forces NASA to scrub Antares launch from Wallops

Credit NASA  Bill Ingalls

Credit NASA Bill Ingalls

The unexpected sighting of an aircraft forced Orbital ATK on November 11 to cancel its planned launch of an unmanned cargo ship to the International Space Station.

The Cygnus spacecraft is an American automated cargo spacecraft developed by Orbital ATK as part of NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) developmental program. The most recent Antares launch took place on the evening of October 17, 2016, and was visible from over 200 miles away.

Temperatures at Wallops Island are forecast to be around 30 F on Saturday night ahead of the launch, but temperatures farther inland will drop into the 20s.

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In October 2014, similar Antares rocket launch to ISS exploded in its lift-off stage.

NASA says it will try again at 6:14 a.m. Sunday. It will appear as a bright dot moving across the sky between two and two-and-a-half minutes after launch.

The launch may be hard to see from farther away since it is happening during the day.

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To see the rocket from the Lehigh Valley, you'll need a clear view of the horizon to the south.

The cargo-carrying Cygnus spacecraft is expected to reach the space station (ISS) now on Tuesday, Nov. 14 with 7,400 pounds of supplies and scientific equipment, including a high-school student science experiment for studying how peanut plants grow in space. The craft is dubbed the S.S. Gene Cernan, after the last astronaut to walk on the moon.

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