The Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft undergoes preparations in the Horizontal Integration Facility at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility for an Oct. 13 launch on the company’s Antares rocket.
Spacecraft and launch vehicle teams are working to prepare the Cygnus for the final loading of cargo bound for the International Space Station and mating the spacecraft to the Antares launch vehicle. This will be NASA commercial cargo provider Orbital ATK’s sixth mission to the International Space Station.
Launch time will be 9:13 p.m. EDT on Oct. 13. Live launch coverage will begin at 8:15 p.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
NASA TV also will air two prelaunch broadcasts Wednesday, Oct. 12. At 1 p.m., scientists and researchers will discuss some of the investigations to be delivered to the station, and at 3 p.m. mission managers will provide an overview and status of launch operations. The briefings also will be streamed live on the agency’s website.
Cygnus is loaded with supplies for the crew along with dozens of experiments, including studies on fire in space, the effect of lighting on sleep and daily rhythms, collection of health-related data, and a new way to measure neutrons.
The Wallops Incident Response Team completed today an initial assessment of Wallops Island, Virginia, following the catastrophic failure of Orbital Science Corp.’s Antares rocket shortly after liftoff at 6:22 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Oct. 28, from Pad 0A of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
“I want to praise the launch team, range safety, all of our emergency responders and those who provided mutual aid and support on a highly-professional response that ensured the safety of our most important resource — our people,” said Bill Wrobel, Wallops director. “In the coming days and weeks ahead, we’ll continue to assess the damage on the island and begin the process of moving forward to restore our space launch capabilities. There’s no doubt in my mind that we will rebound stronger than ever.”
The initial assessment is a cursory look; it will take many more weeks to further understand and analyze the full extent of the effects of the event. A number of support buildings in the immediate area have broken windows and imploded doors. A sounding rocket launcher adjacent to the pad, and buildings nearest the pad, suffered the most severe damage.
At Pad 0A the initial assessment showed damage to the transporter erector launcher and lightning suppression rods, as well as debris around the pad.
The Wallops team also met with a group of state and local officials, including the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, the Virginia Marine Police, and the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Wallops environmental team also is conducting assessments at the site. Preliminary observations are that the environmental effects of the launch failure were largely contained within the southern third of Wallops Island, in the area immediately adjacent to the pad. Immediately after the incident, the Wallops’ industrial hygienist collected air samples at the Wallops mainland area, the Highway 175 causeway, and on Chincoteague Island. No hazardous substances were detected at the sampled locations.
Additional air, soil and water samples will be collected from the incident area as well as at control sites for comparative analysis.
The Coast Guard and Virginia Marine Resources Commission reported today they have not observed any obvious signs of water pollution, such as oil sheens. Furthermore, initial assessments have not revealed any obvious impacts to fish or wildlife resources. The Incident Response Team continues to monitor and assess.
Following the initial assessment, the response team will open the area of Wallops Island, north of the island flagpole opposite of the launch pad location, to allow the U.S. Navy to return back to work.
Anyone who finds debris or damage to their property in the vicinity of the launch mishap is cautioned to stay away from it and call the Incident Response Team at 757-824-1295.
Further updates on the situation and the progress of the ongoing investigation will be available at:
The following statement is from William Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Directorate, regarding the launch failure that occurred at Pad 0A of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia during the attempted launch of Orbital Sciences Corp’s Antares rocket and Cygnus cargo spacecraft at 6:22 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28.
“While NASA is disappointed that Orbital Sciences’ third contracted resupply mission to the International Space Station was not successful today, we will continue to move forward toward the next attempt once we fully understand today’s mishap. The crew of the International Space Station is in no danger of running out of food or other critical supplies.
“Orbital has demonstrated extraordinary capabilities in its first two missions to the station earlier this year, and we know they can replicate that success. Launching rockets is an incredibly difficult undertaking, and we learn from each success and each setback. Today’s launch attempt will not deter us from our work to expand our already successful capability to launch cargo from American shores to the International Space Station.”
Damage related to the Oct. 28 launch attempt of an Antares rocket was contained to the hazard area, but there may have been a scattering of debris. Public safety is our No. 1 priority. If people find debris in the vicinity of the launch, please stay away and call the Incident Response Team at 757-824-1295.
The Orbital Sciences Corp.’s Antares rocket lifted off to start its third resupply mission to the International Space Station, but suffered a catastrophic anomaly shortly after liftoff at 6:22 p.m. EDT.
The Orbital Sciences team is executing its contingency procedures, securing the site and data, including all telemetry from the Antares launch vehicle and Cygnus spacecraft.
Before launch the Orbital team was not tracking any issues.
No injuries have been reported, and Orbital reports that all personnel around the Wallops Flight Facility launch site have been accounted for.
NASA will continue to provide additional updates as they become available. A news conference will be held on NASA TV at 9 p.m. EDT.
The countdown is progressing smoothly for the 6:22 p.m. EDT launch of Orbital Sciences Corp.’s Antares rocket and Cygnus cargo spacecraft. There are no technical concerns with the rocket or spacecraft being worked. The weather for this evening’s launch is at 100-percent favorable. Cygnus will carry some 5,000 pounds of supplies and experiments to the International Space Station.
The countdown is progressing smoothly for the 6:22 p.m. EDT launch of Orbital Sciences Corp.’s Antares rocket and Cygnus cargo spacecraft. There are no technical concerns with the rocket or spacecraft being worked. The weather for this evening’s launch is predicted to be 97 percent favorable. Cygnus will carry some 5,000 pounds of supplies and experiments to the International Space Station. NASA TV coverage begins at 5:30 p.m.
This graphic previews some of the milestones that occur following the Antares rocket’s liftoff, leading up through separation of the Cygnus CRS-3 spacecraft.
NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility and Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport are set to support the launch of Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft at 6:22 p.m. EDT today, Oct. 28. Launch coverage on NASA TV will begin at 5:30 p.m.
The Antares rocket will carry Orbital’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft, loaded with some 5,000 pounds of supplies and experiments, to the International Space Station. CRS-3 (short for “Commercial Resupply Services”) will be the fourth Cygnus flight, including a demonstration flight in 2013, and the first night launch of an Antares rocket.
Roughly a third of the cargo is a series of scientific investigations.
Selected Scientific Highlights
Pea Shoot Growth in Space
One investigation by students from Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart in Houston tests the performance of pea shoot growth in space. Pea shoots grow so quickly on Earth that they can be harvested in two to four weeks. They also contain high amounts of vitamins and minerals, making them a potential source of food on long-duration space missions. Students will identify the best combinations of red and blue LED lights, which are used in the plant growth chamber, by analyzing the plants’ mineral content upon return to Earth. The investigation is facilitated by NanoRacks and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS).
A human health study called Drain Brain will inform understandings of blood flow in space to possibly aid in the treatment of headaches and other neurological systems reported by crew members living on the space station. The special neck collar, called a strain-gauge plethysmograph, used to measure blood flow from the brain for the Drain Brain study, does not require surgery or special knowledge to operate. This could make the collar a useful tool for monitoring patients on Earth who have heart or brain disorders. Drain Brain also could have implications for development of screening mechanisms for cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
A group of 18 student-led investigations, collectively part of the Yankee Clipper suite of research under the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP), offers young scientists the opportunity to conceive of, design, implement and analyze scientific research questions in space. The studies investigate a range of topics from a crystal growth study that will enable students to learn more about how fluids act and form into crystals in the absence of gravity to how microgravity affect milk spoilage. Yankee Clipper is the eighth flight opportunity associated with the SSEP, an initiative of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education in partnership with NanoRacks.
Reentry Breakup Recorder-W (REBR)
REBR uses the flight-verified REBR data collection and transmission system to record data during the reentry and breakup of a vehicle from wireless sensors placed throughout the host vehicle, and return the data for analysis to validate reentry hazard prediction models.
The Meteor Composition Determination, or Meteor, uses high-resolution video and image analysis of the atmosphere to learn about the physical and chemical properties of meteoroid dust, which includes size, density and chemical composition. Investigating the elemental composition of meteors adds to our understanding of how the planets developed. Continuous measurement of meteor interactions with Earth’s atmosphere also could spot previously unforeseen meteor showers.
NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility and Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport are set to support the launch of Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket at 6:22 p.m. EDT today, Oct. 28. Launch coverage on NASA TV will begin at 5:30 p.m.
Antares, loaded with a Cygnus cargo spacecraft, will lift off from the spaceport’s (known as “MARS,” for short) Pad 0A, which completed construction in 2011. The satellite image below is a view from May 3, 2014.
NASA’s Earth Observatory provided the above satellite view, as well as a write-up of NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia:
More than 70 year ago, wild ponies roamed the marshes and beaches of Wallops Island, a barrier island on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Today, the island is the site of a thriving spaceport that launches several commercial and government rockets each year.
Wallops has a long history with rockets. On July 4, 1945, NASA’s predecessor (the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, or “NACA”) launched the first rocket from Wallops, making the island one of the oldest launch sites in the world.
Wallops Flight Facility is NASA’s premier location for conducting research using suborbital vehicles: aircraft, scientific balloons and sounding rockets. Its partnership with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport expands the facility’s capabilities in supporting the launch of orbital vehicles.
Since its beginnings as a facility for conducting high-speed research on aerodynamic designs, Wallops has launched more than 16,000 rockets carrying aircraft models, space and Earth science experiments, technology development payloads and satellites.
The island’s name comes from John Wallop, a 17th-century surveyor and original land patent-holder.
The countdown is progressing smoothly today for the launch of Orbital Sciences Corp.’s Antares rocket, with the Cygnus cargo spacecraft on top. There are no technical concerns with the rocket or spacecraft being worked. The weather for this evening’s launch is predicted to be 97 percent favorable.
Liftoff is scheduled for 6:22 p.m. EDT from the Mid-Atlantic Spaceport’s Pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
Live coverage of the launch on NASA TV will begin at 5:30 p.m.
Cygnus is loaded with about 5,000 pounds of science investigations, food, supplies and hardware for the space station and its crew.
A launch this evening will result in Cygnus catching up to the space station on Sunday, Nov. 2. Cygnus will be grappled at approximately 4:58 a.m. by NASA crew members Reid Wiseman and Barry “Butch” Wilmore. Cygnus will be attached to the Earth-facing port of the station’s Harmony node and will remain in place approximately one month. It is scheduled depart the space station on Dec. 3.
This is Orbital’s third mission to the International Space Station under its Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA.