Waiting on a new day / Image credit Orbital Sciences
It was a beautiful evening for a rocket launch. Unfortunately, it was also an equally beautiful evening to do a little boating. Ordinarily not a problem, but in this case the unidentified vessel in question was downrange of the Orbital Sciences Antares booster which was scheduled to lift off at 6:45:04 EDT from Pad OA at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. And thus, no launch.
Orbital will try again to launch Cygnus to ISS on Tuesday evening, with a new ten minute launch window beginning at 6:22 PM EDT. NASA coverage begins at 5:30 PM.
Note: It is somewhat surprising that marine related delays don’t occur more often, particularly in the boating friendly waters of Florida. It does happen though. SpaceX’s very first flight of the original Falcon 9 was temporarily delayed when a sailboat strayed into the launch zone.
Looking ahead, it will be interesting to note what, if any result the advent of fully reusable launch vehicles might have on NASA and FAA safety standards for potential objects down range. In the meantime, while Orbital is no doubt disappointed, perhaps it can take some comfort in helping to provide a concrete example of one undeniable benefit of air-launched systems such as its very own booster for the Stratolaunch project.