ORLANDO, Fla., Feb. 14 (UPI) — Northrop Grumman has reset its plans to launch a cargo capsule to the International Space Station from Virginia at 3:43 p.m. EST Friday.
Northrop’s Cygnus capsule is carrying 8,000 pounds of science experiments, crew supplies and hardware. A previous launch attempt on Sunday was scrubbed less than three minutes before liftoff time because of “off-nominal data” from sensors on the ground, according to NASA.
The company’s Antares rocket will carry a disposable capsule on Northrop’s CRS-13 mission from Pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport.
Northrop and NASA said the new launch time takes advantage of an improved weather forecast, while it also allowed testing of replaced ground sensors. Crews also refreshed critical science equipment on board that has a limited shelf life.
Weather should be 80 percent favorable for launch, according to NASA.
A launch Friday would result in space station capture and docking of Cygnus on Sunday, starting at about 4 a.m., NASA said.
As with all launches to the space station, the launch window is instantaneous, meaning any problems would cause a postponement to the next day or a future date.
NASA says the launch might be visible, weather permitting, to residents throughout the Mid-Atlantic region and possibly the East Coast of the United States.
Northrop designed the Cygnus capsule to accept trash from the space station after delivering cargo and to burn up in the atmosphere after leaving.
The capsule carries equipment for multiple science experiments. Examples include tissue culturing, a demonstration of a new miniature scanning electron microscope and an experiment to study fires aboard spacecraft.
Because the last leg of the unmanned Cygnus is doomed anyway, NASA researcher Gary Ruff said it is “the perfect vehicle for us to do what we really want to do, which is burn larger samples… It goes away and nobody’s on it.”