The launch of an Orbital ATK Antares rocket to the International Space Station from Wallops Flight Facility has been pushed back one day because of climate concerns.
“Orbital ATK in conjunction with NASA, has moved the Antares and Cygnus launch to NET Monday, May 21st at 4:39 a.m. EDT to support further pre-launch inspections and more favorable weather conditions,” according to a statement released Friday by NASA officials.
Officials said Monday shows an 80 percent probability of acceptable weather for launch. At Wallops, the first light before sunrise on the day of the May 21 launch attempt expected at around 5:16 a.m. EDT (09:16 GMT). While the liftoff expected to occur almost 40 minutes before that once the rocket reaches high enough altitude. The contrail produced by the rising vehicle illuminated.
Mission called OA-9
But the mission called OA-9 carries 7,400 pounds of supplies and science experiments. For six astronauts aboard the floating laboratory. It is Orbital’s ninth scheduled flight as one of two commercial resupply contractors for NASA. The other is Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
Another experiment headed to the ISS to try to detect tiny things. The Biomolecule Extraction and Sequencing Technology (BEST) experiment designed to identify unknown microbial organisms using a process that sequences directly from a sample with minimal preparation. Rather than with the traditional technique that requires growing a culture from the sample while microbes may be small, atoms are even smaller.
NASA’s new Cold Atom Lab (CAL)
The CAL facility creates a cold environment very cold. According to NASA, it is 10 billion times colder than the vacuum of space. It’s cold that atoms slowed down to an almost motionless state using the facility’s lasers and magnetic forces it generates.
NASA said that doing this research in a microgravity environment. It allows observations of the ultra-cold atoms to be much longer in duration than on Earth. The results of the research lead to improved technologies. Such as quantum computers, sensors, and atomic clocks used in spacecraft navigation.
Cygnus won’t be the only spacecraft launching on the OA-9 mission. The many CubeSats launched inside the cargo spacecraft, experimental CubeSat called RainCube is also on the manifest.
The ultimate goal of this research would be to place a constellation of precipitation profiling instruments in low-Earth orbit. To gather larger amounts of data at a faster rate than current instruments which few in number are capable of.
This improved data could provide better climate and weather models than current satellites.