Hurricane Gonzalo Delays Orb-3 Cargo Launch to ISS

Hurricane Gonzalo Delays Orb-3 Cargo Launch to ISS

NASA and Orbital Sciences Corporation decided today to delay the launch of Orbital’s third operational cargo mission (Orb-3) to the International Space Station (ISS) until at least October 27 because Hurricane Gonzalo is bearing down on Bermuda.  One of the tracking sites used for Orbital’s launches from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility is located in Bermuda.

The announcement on Orbital’s website stresses that the October 27 date is tentative since the impact of the storm on Bermuda’s infrastructure will not be known until the storm passes.

As of 5:00 pm ET today (October 15), Gonzalo is a Category Three hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour and higher gusts.  Bermuda is expected to feel the brunt of it on Friday with a “dangerous storm surge” accompanied by “large and destructive waves” according to the National Hurricane Center.

The mobile tracking station is located on Cooper’s Island, Bermuda. 

NASA/Wallops Bermuda Tracking Site.  Photo Credit:   NASA/Wallops.

Orbital launches its commercial cargo missions to the ISS from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the coast of Virginia.  NASA and Bermuda signed an agreement in March 2012 to place a tracking site there to support such launches.  NASA/Wallops Deputy Range Director Steven Kremer said at the time that “[o]wning, deploying and controlling our own assets means control over scheduling … and higher confidence in promising range availability to our customers….”  The tracking station provides telemetry, radar and command and control services.

Originally scheduled for October 14, the Orb-3 launch was delayed to October 20 and then October 24 primarily because of the busy schedule of activities aboard the ISS, including three spacewalks this month (the second was completed today) and the arrival and departure of other cargo spacecraft including Russia’s Progress and SpaceX’s Dragon.

If the launch takes place on October 27, the launch time is 6:44 pm ET and Orbital’s Cygnus spacecraft will arrive at the ISS on November 2, Orbital said today.

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