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NASA troubleshooting delays resupply mission

8:41 PM, Dec 15, 2013   |    comments
The Orbital Sciences Corp. Antares rocket lifts off the launchpad at the NASA Wallops Island test flight facility in Wallops Island, Va., Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. The unmanned Antares rocket will carry 1,300 pounds of food, clothes and other items as part of this test flight to the International Space Station.
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MELBOURNE, Fla. -- The next launch of supplies to the International Space Station has been delayed at least one day, to Thursday, while NASA investigates a glitch that has shut down half the station's external coolant system.

Orbital Sciences Corp., on Saturday announced that the launch from Virginia's Eastern Shore of its Antares rocket and unmanned Cygnus cargo spacecraft was now planned no earlier than 9:19 p.m. EST Thursday, the opening of a five-minute window.

Orbital said it would learn Sunday whether NASA authorized it to proceed with loading time-sensitive cargo into the Cygnus in preparation for the rocket to roll to its launch pad Tuesday.

NASA had said it would update the launch schedule after station managers met Monday morning.

The launch window for the commercial resupply mission, Orbital's first of eight under a $1.9 billion contract, runs through Saturday or Sunday of next week.

No further update was provided Saturday on efforts to restore function to a balky flow control valve inside an ammonia pump module on the station's starboard side.

The valve failed Wednesday, causing one of the outpost's two coolant loops to get too cold and shut down.

If teams on the ground can't come up with a fix in the near future, spacewalks will probably be ordered to replace the pump module and restore redundancy to the coolant system.

The station's six-person crew is in no danger, but some non-essential systems have been powered down to prevent overheating, limiting science research.


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