WASHINGTON — Orbital Sciences Corp. has delayed launch of its third paid cargo mission to the international space station to Oct. 24 from Oct. 20, the Dulles, Virginia, company wrote in an Oct. 8 press release.
The delay is to accommodate a traffic jam at the international space station, where a Dragon cargo freighter operated by NASA’s other contract carrier, Space Exploration Technologies Corp., is still berthed.
Orbital’s upcoming mission will be the third of eight the company owes NASA under a $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract signed in 2008.
Orbital’s Antares rocket will launch about 2,300 kilograms of cargo to station in the expendable Cygnus space capsule. Liftoff is slated for 7:52 p.m. Eastern time from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, a state-operated facility located at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia.
Cygnus will take eight days to rendezvous with station, arriving no earlier than Nov. 2 to berth with the orbital outpost. The expendable craft will remain on orbit for about a month and is slated to leave Dec. 3, taking with it a load of trash that will be destroyed during re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.
By the end of the mission, Orbital will have delivered about 6,100 kilograms of the 20,000 kilograms of required by NASA under the 2008 contract.
The mission will mark the fifth time Antares has flown from Wallops, and the fourth time Cygnus has delivered cargo to station. Orbital had to perform a demonstration cargo run before it was allowed to start routine deliveries under its contract with NASA. Before that, Orbital had to launch Antares with a dummy Cygnus to prove the rocket worked.