Antares launch moves to no earlier than Oct. 24
Earlier today, Orbital Sciences and NASA announced that their ORB-3 Antares/Cygnus launch has been moved to no earlier than (NET) Friday, Oct. 24 with a target liftoff time of 7:52 p.m. EDT (2352 GMT) from Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), located at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. A no-earlier-than (NET) date means that there is still the possibility that the new schedule date may still be changed, but will be no earlier than the posted day.
The revised schedule is to ensure that the Antares/Cygnus team has ample time for pre-launch preparations, including testing of the Antares medium launch vehicle that will carry the Cygnus spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS). This change also reflects a busy schedule for the Expedition 41 crew aboard the space station as they prepare for the arrival of the Cygnus cargo vessel.
Orbital Sciences Corporation has stated the following:
The launch schedule has been established in order to build flexibility into the overall mission schedule in the event of an unexpected disruption such as adverse weather at the launch site.
The ORB-3 mission will see the Cygnus logistics spacecraft delivering much needed supplies and cargo to the astronauts aboard the ISS. This mission is part of the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract that Orbital Sciences holds with NASA, which allows them to deliver the 5,050 lbs (2,290 kg) of goods for this flight.
Still launching ahead of the timeline for Cygnus to fulfill the necessary rendezvous and berthing with the space station, Cygnus is scheduled to arrive on Nov 2. The spacecraft will remain in orbit for a few days before maneuvering with carefully timed thruster burns in order to be grappled by the space station’s robotic arm, operated by Reid Wiseman and Barry Wilmore. It will stay berthed to the station for about a month, where on Dec 3 is it scheduled to depart carrying disposal cargo.
Britt Rawcliffe is a professional freelance aerospace and aviation photographer based out of Pennsylvania with over six years of professional photographic experience. Her creative imagery has spanned into all areas relating to space, including launches, photojournalism, architecture, and portraiture. Britt’s passion for history has been a common thread in much of her work, including having photographed many Moonwalkers such as Buzz Aldrin and Gene Cernan.