The Antares Rocket launch day has been moved to Friday after it faced a one-day delay caused by minor technical issues and Hurricane Matthew preparations.
Orbital ATK announced the change in a statement issued Monday which also included the new official hours, or more exactly Friday, at 08:51 PM. The rocket is set to carry out the first of its at least 17 flights that are to restock the International Space Station’s supplies.
The statement also continued to explain the one-day launch slip as being caused both by launch preparations and by the emergency measures issued by Hurricane Matthews’ expected approach even as the hurricane modified its course and passed by Virginia’s Eastern Shore, the launch’s general location.
The Thursday-night expected launch date was bypassed as well after workers had to deal with a minor vehicle issue that still set back the preparations and caused a delay in the Antares rocket connection to its Cygnus supply ship. The payload, which is to supply cargo weighing somewhere in the vicinity of 5,000 pounds, will be carried by a two-stage booster equipped with a new set of rocket engines.
The updated timeline, which now places the expected arrival date sometimes on early Monday, instead of the expected Sunday, is still liable to change as Orbital ATK representatives have warned. The launch schedule could still suffer modifications as a number of tests have to be carried out, as well as other remaining pre-launch operational activities that have to be performed before the much-expected blast off. Weather conditions will just as well play a factor as both the effective launch and the moments prior to it, the necessary operations and tests are weather-dependent.
The Antares rocket, which is now housed in the company’s assembly building, will have to be rolled out of its hangar and cover the one-mile distance journey from its Wallop Island site to the launch area on Wednesday.
The rocket called Antares 230 will also benefit from new, first-stage engines and will eliminate its need for the AJ260 technology that is thought to be the cause of the Orbital ATK Antares October 2014 flight, which ended its mission with a fiery crash.
The new RD-181 equipment will not only be more reliable but also more powerful as it produces more thrust, as project manager declares a 20 to 25 percentage improvement in the Antares rocket launch and its performance in carrying the cargo.
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