Launch of OA-5 moves to Oct. 13 as Hurricane Matthew looms
With the pre-launch Flight Readiness Review for the upcoming OA-5 flight on the newly re-engined Antares 230 launch vehicle complete, NASA and Dulles, Virginia-based Orbital ATK had to confront the possibility a hurricane could put a serious damper on flight plans. With that, a new, more precise L-0 was established.
NASA and Orbital ATK are now eyeing Oct. 13, 2016, for the return-to-flight mission of the Antares rocket. It is slated to send the enhanced Cygnus cargo ship to the International Space Station. According to a release issued by the company, final integration of the spacecraft and rocket is currently underway. Rollout to Pad 0A of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) expected to take place on Oct. 11.
The launch window is currently set to last for about five minutes, opening at 9:13 p.m. EDT (01:13 GMT on Oct. 14). If the rocket and its OA-5 Cygnus cargo-carrier spacecraft payload take to the skies on that date, it should be visible along much of the East Coast depending on atmospheric conditions. The chief factor of these conditions is Hurricane Matthew, which is currently making its way toward Florida with virtually every model showing the hurricane traveling along the U.S. Eastern Coast and over the MARS launch site.
Besides the dangerous weather system approaching from the Caribbean, the launch schedule might also be impacted by “…remaining pre-launch integration and testing activities and acceptable weather conditions prior to and during launch operations.”
Video courtesy of NASA / Johnson
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, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.