America’s first supply mission to the International Space Station since an unmanned rocket exploded 13 months ago was canceled Friday. Blame wind.
The Orbital ATK was originally set to launch Thursday before bad weather delayed the launch to Friday afternoon. Though weather only looked 40 percent positive early in the day, engineers were optimistic a window would appear. Unfortunately, after a number of holds and countdown resets due to gusty conditions, the launch window ran out.
NASA could try again this weekend, assuming the weather cooperates and depending on how the crew feels, but no new launch attempt has been scheduled.
This was to be the first mission to the space station since a SpaceX rocket contracted by NASA disintegrated shortly after launch on June 28. Since then, NASA has been depending on Russian and Japanese supply missions.
When the launch does happen, it’ll be the maiden voyage for the new Enhanced Cygnus spacecraft. The new model has improved on the original’s cargo volume by 25 percent. Besides food and care packages, it’s carrying necessary hardware and research materials — including a new life science facility, flame-resistant textile experiments, metallurgy, and a microsatellite deployer — among its 7,383.3 pounds of cargo.