The launch of the Orbital ATK Antares 230 launch vehicle with OA-8 S.S. Gene Cernan Cygnus from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Virginia, was aborted on Saturday, Nov. 11 morning, due to a range violation as an aircraft was detected in the vicinity of the launch pad, said NASA.
The ISS cargo resupply mission was rescheduled to launch to the International Space Station on Sunday, Nov. 12 just few minutes before the launch when an aircraft entered no-fly zone over the launch site at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility.
With just one minute left for the button to be pressed for lift-off, all the flight controllers were abruptly stopped at 7:36 a.m. EST. Since the launch window was only for 5 minutes, the lift-off had to be aborted and Orbital ATK rescheduled the Antares launch for approximately at 7:14 a.m. EST on Sunday, Nov. 12.
"The launch of Orbital ATK's Antares rocket carrying the Cygnus cargo spacecraft has scrubbed for Saturday after an aircraft was detected in the vicinity of the launch pad," said NASA in a statement.
The culprit, a small personal aircraft that entered the restricted airspace was within a 6 miles (10 kilometers) offshore flying at an altitude of about 500 feet, which could have been dangerous for the lift-off. FAA is investigating the incident.
Orbital ATK tweeted: "We were working no issues until an aircraft flew into restricted airspace. We are currently de-tanking and will be ready to go tomorrow morning."
Otherwise, it was a huge disappointment for more than 3,500 spectators who had gathered at the visitor center at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in freezing-cold to watch the lift-off.
The S.S. Gene Cernan Cygnus will launch aboard an Antares launch vehicle for the sixth time from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia to deliver vital supplies and scientific equipment to the station as part of the space company's Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA.
The cargo-carrying Cygnus spacecraft is expected to reach the space station (ISS) now on Tuesday, Nov. 14 with 7,400 pounds of supplies and scientific equipment, including a high-school student science experiment for studying how peanut plants grow in space. The spacecraft will remain attached to the ISS for one month.
The attached cargo ship will help researchers conduct studies on how space's microgravity affects the E.coli bacteria's resistance to antibiotics, and another NASA experiment will test feasibility of faster communications between people in space and on earth.
In October 2014, similar Antares rocket launch to ISS exploded in its lift-off stage. Orbital ATK will soon pass into the hands of defense contractor giant Northrop Grumman which has bought it for about $7.8 billion.