UPDATE: Orbital Sciences Corporation, one of the world’s leading space technology companies, today announced that the next launch attempt for the new Antares rocket will be no earlier than Saturday, April 20, at 5 p.m. The mission management team met this afternoon to evaluate weather forecasts and optimum crew work schedules to provide two back-to-back opportunities for a launch attempt.
Weather conditions deteriorate on Friday, April 19, but improve significantly over the next two days increasing the chances for acceptable conditions at launch time. This also allows the Antares launch team a day of rest before back-to-back opportunities on Saturday, April 20 and Sunday, April 21.
DULLES, VA, 18 April 2013 (Orbital PR) – Orbital Sciences Corporation, one of the world’s leading space technology companies, today announced that the Antares team has developed a go-forward plan to address the umbilical disconnect issue that resulted in the April 17 launch scrub. The program is currently working toward the next launch attempt on Friday, April 19 at 5 p.m. EDT, weather permitting.
During the initial countdown on April 17, with 12 minutes left in the count, flight controllers saw that an umbilical providing data, which connects the Transporter Erector Launcher (TEL) to the upper stage of the Antares rocket, became disconnected prior to the planned disconnect time. The team determined the cause was a combination of slight hydraulic movement of the TEL and not enough slack left in the umbilical to allow for any additional or unplanned movement. Neither issue alone would have caused the umbilical disconnect, however, the combination resulted in the anomaly. Small adjustments are being made early today to both the hydraulics on the TEL and to the umbilical.
“The good news is that this is a simple adjustment to the external support systems,” said Mr. Frank Culbertson, Orbital’s Executive Vice President and Mission Director for the Antares Test Flight. “Given that this is a first run for the rocket and the first time use of a new launch facility, the fact that all systems were performing as planned while the team proceeded through the pre-launch checklists is very encouraging. It speaks volumes about the quality of the work done by this team and our partners.”
The next launch attempt is pending completion of the work at the pad and acceptable weather conditions. Mission managers will meet again later today to review weather and range conditions. At that time they will determine if the team will move forward with beginning the countdown tomorrow morning.