Spaceflight Insider

NASA, Orbital postpone Antares launch due to space radiation

NASA and Orbital decided to postpone the launch by a day due to extreme solar activity caused by a sun spot. Photo Credit: Elliot Severn / SpaceFlight Insider

Unusually high levels of space radiation forced a scrub of Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares rocket bound for the International Space Station (ISS). Launch had been slated to occur today, Jan. 8 at 1:32 p.m. EST (18:32 GMT) from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The Orb-1 mission will deliver thousands of pounds of cargo to the ISS when it launches from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad-0A.

Despite the fact that the C. Gordon Fullerton (Cygnus) spacecraft is shielded for such events, the levels of radiation were so high that they exceeded even those tolerances. Radiation at the levels detected could impact the rocket’s electronic systems. According to a NASA-issued statement, numerous models were ran to see if the launch could move forward  – but it was not to be. Orbital engineers will take the extra day to evaluate how these high radiation levels could affect Antares avionics.

No new launch date has been given. If it is decided to go ahead and launch on Thursday, Jan. 9, the launch time would be 1:10 p.m. EST (18:10 GMT). This would place Cygnus’ arrival at the Space Station on Jan. 12.


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Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology,, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

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