The Orbital Sciences Corp. Antares rocket lifts off the launchpad at the NASA Wallops Island test flight facility in Wallops Island, Va., Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. The unmanned Antares rocket will carry 1,300 pounds of food, clothes and other items as part of this test flight to the International Space Station.
(Florida Today) -- Sunday could shape up as a big day for new commercial spacecraft and rockets pursuing important milestones.
Sciences Corp. said Thursday that its Cygnus cargo freighter could
berth at the International Space Station early Sunday, pending a final
review of plans with NASA.
later, SpaceX is targeting a test launch of its next-generation Falcon 9
rocket from California, with a window opening at noon Eastern time.
unmanned Cygnus is flying a maiden demonstration mission to prove it is
ready for regular cargo deliveries to the station under a $1.9 billion
A rendezvous with the outpost had been planned last Sunday, but was postponed because of a glitch in processing navigation data.
company statement said a software patch had solved that problem and the
vehicle on Thursday evening would begin closing a 1,500 mile gap to the
station to set up the potential final approach Sunday.
Cygnus spacecraft remains healthy in orbit, with all major onboard
systems performing as expected," a company statement said.
taller, more powerful Falcon 9 rocket had been preparing for a
mid-September launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, the company's first
from the West Coast.
But a brief test-firing on the pad of nine first-stage Merlin engines uncovered issues that needed to be corrected.
On Sept. 19, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk reported a second test had been completed "with all systems green this time."
addition to launching a small Canadian satellite, the mission will try
to guide the 224-foot rocket's first stage to a soft ocean landing for
SpaceX's next launch would be from Cape Canaveral, the site of the original Falcon 9's five launches.
If Orbital completes its mission successfully, another Cygnus could be launched to the ISS as soon as December.