A resupply mission for the international space station is set to launch.
An Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket is seen on launch Pad-0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, in advance of a planned launch on Wednesday, Jan. 8th, 1:32 p.m. EST. The Antares will launch a Cygnus spacecraft on a cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. The Orbital-1 mission is Orbital Sciences’ first contracted cargo delivery flight to the space station for NASA. According to NASA, among the cargo aboard the Cygnus set to launch are 2,780 pounds of cargo — including 935 pounds of crew supplies, 723 pounds of hardware, 957 pounds of science and research materials, 106 pounds of computer supplies, 48 pounds of spacewalk tools, research focusing on vaccines, antibiotics and drug resistance in space and how fire, ants and liquids behave in space, and 23 student experiments, selected from 1,841 proposals.
The space station resupply mission launch is seen by officials as significant because of the trend toward space privatization. Orbital Sciences Corp., who built the rocket, has a $1.9 million contract with NASA to launch from the Wallops Flight Facility.
Orbital had originally expected to launch the first of its eight commercial resupply services missions to the station in late December. The flight was delayed because station crew had to perform two spacewalks to fix a faulty ammonia pump that caused the outpost’s cooling system to malfunction. The launch window on Wednesday is 1:32 – 1:37 p.m. If weather conditions on Wednesday do not prove favorable, the launch window for Thursday, is 1:10 – 1:15 p.m. “The weather forecast shows a 95 percent probability of acceptable for launch on Wednesday,” said NASA spokesman Keith Koehler in an e-mail. “The main concern is high, thick clouds.”
Now, is it just us, or is that a giant water tank right next to the rocket? If it is, do they plan on trying to put out rocket fuel with water? If so, did they miss the several trillion gallons of water to the left? Or, is it a giant fuel tank cleverly located close enough to the rocket, so that if there is a malfunction, it gets blown all to hell as well?
Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls