Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Cloudy 51° Cloudy
News >  Nation/World

Boat derails delivery to space station

Cargo capsule’s launch halted with vessel in restricted zone

Associated Press

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – A space station delivery mission was called off Monday, just hours after the orbiting lab had to sidestep a piece of treacherous junk.

Orbital Sciences Corp. got to within the 10-minute mark for the Virginia launch of its unmanned Cygnus capsule. But a sailboat ended up in the restricted danger zone, and controllers halted the evening countdown. The Virginia-based company will try again tonight.

Early Monday afternoon, space station flight controllers steered the complex and its six inhabitants away from satellite wreckage. The debris – part of an old, destroyed Russian satellite – would have passed within two-tenths of a mile of the station if not for the maneuver.

Mission Control was informed of the space junk over the weekend. It is wreckage from a Kosmos satellite that was launched in 1993 and collided with an Iridium spacecraft in 2009.

Orbital Sciences Corp.’s unmanned Cygnus capsule – on the pad at Wallops Island, Virginia – holds 5,000 pounds of cargo for NASA, including 32 mini research satellites, a meteor tracker and a tank of high-pressure nitrogen to replenish a vestibule used by spacewalking astronauts.

Traffic is heavy these days 260 miles up.

Just Saturday, a Dragon cargo ship supplied by the California-based SpaceX company – its fifth – departed the space station after a monthlong visit and splashed into the Pacific with a load of precious science samples.

On Wednesday, a Russian cargo ship is set to rocket into orbit from Kazakhstan and arrive at the space station the same day.

This is the fourth space station delivery for the Virginia-based Orbital Sciences. Each one honors a deceased person linked to the company or commercial spaceflight; this one pays tribute to Mercury astronaut Deke Slayton, who led a rocket company until his death in 1993. As a retro-style homage, Orbital Sciences flight controllers wore short-sleeved white shirts and skinny black ties.

NASA is paying Orbital Sciences and SpaceX to make regular space station deliveries.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.