An unmanned Orbital Sciences launch to the International Space Station was aborted at the last minute due to an unexpected presence of a stray boat in the launch safety range.
Launch controllers had to abort the launch of Orbital Sciences’ unmanned Cygnus spacecraft, which was on a resupply mission atop the Antares Rocket at 6:45 EDT because a boat got in between.
The sudden and unexpected presence of the boat downrange at the NASSA’s Wallops Flights Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia forced the calling off of the launch.
The rocket launch is now scheduled for Tuesday (Oct. 28) at 6:22 p.m. EDT. If the weather does not play spoilsport, the launch will be visible to the population along the U.S. East Coast, from Massachusetts to South Carolina.
The stray boat which stalled the launch was repeatedly contacted by mission controllers but they could not get the boat to move to safety in time.
NASA commentator Rob Navias said during a webcast of the attempted launch, “This was strictly a range issue this evening that terminated the count just 10 minutes before the scheduled liftoff time at the end of a 10-minute window.”
However Orbital Sciences executive vice president Frank Culbertson, himself a former astronaut shrugged off the incident and said that it was just a spaceflight and such things can happen from time to time.
Cygnus will deliver 2,268 kilograms of food, supplies and scientific experiments to the occupants of the International Space Station. The present mission is a part of eight supply runs of which two have already been completed. Orbital Sciences has concluded a $1.9 billion deal with NASA to resupply
NASA has also signed a $1.6 billion contract with California-based SpaceX. SpaceX will fly 12 unmanned cargo mission and it has already completed three re-supply mission with its Dragon capsule and the Falcon 9 rocket.
The launch postponement was disappointing but sky gazers will not be disappointed since they can enjoy a beautiful sunset with the International Space Station flying over it.