ULA reschedules OA-7 Cygnus launch for April 18
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — United Launch Alliance (ULA) is now targeting April 18, 2017, for the launch of an Atlas V rocket with a Cygnus cargo spacecraft bound for the International Space Station (ISS).
Launching from Space Launch Complex 41, the Atlas V 401 rocket (4-meter fairing, zero solid rocket boosters and a single-engine upper stage) is slated to take to the skies at 11:11 a.m. EDT (1511 GMT), the opening of a 30-minute launch window. The flight was delayed multiple times in March 2017 for multiple reasons. The latest was due to a hydraulic line issue on the booster itself.
“The team has developed a plan to resolve the issue and is moving forward with launch vehicle processing,” an April 3 statement by ULA reads. “The Atlas V and Cygnus spacecraft remain secure.”
The Orbital Atk OA-7 Cygnus spacecraft is named S.S. John Glenn after the Mercury 7 astronaut. It will be delivering about 7,452 pounds (3,380 kilograms) of internal cargo and a 183-pound (83-kilogram) external CubeSat deployer.
It will be the seventh Cygnus flight to the space station, and the third atop an Atlas V rocket. Previously, the OA-4 and OA-6 missions flew atop ULA’s workhorse rocket in December 2015 and March 2016, respectively. This was because the Antares rocket that traditionally launches Cygnus spacecraft was undergoing upgrades following the October 2014 Orb-3 launch failure.
OA-5 launched atop an upgraded Antares 230 rocket in October 2016. According to NASA Spaceflight, the reason for the switch to an Atlas V for OA-7 had to do with getting more cargo (about 700 pounds or 300 kilograms more) to the ISS and giving NASA more schedule assurance.
Flights after OA-7, starting with OA-8E, will return to using Antares rockets launched from Wallops Island, Virginia.
Derek Richardson has a degree in mass media, with an emphasis in contemporary journalism, from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. While at Washburn, he was the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also has a website about human spaceflight called Orbital Velocity. You can find him on twitter @TheSpaceWriter.