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Wednesday Cygnus Launch Scrubbed; Light Duty Day on Station

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed Jan 8, 2014 5:44 pm via: NASA
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Early Wednesday morning, Orbital Sciences Corporation decided to scrub the launch attempt of the Antares rocket and the Cygnus cargo spacecraft on the company’s first resupply mission to the International Space Station due to an unusually high level of space radiation that exceeded constraints imposed on Antares.

The solar flux activity that occurred late Tuesday afternoon resulted in an increasing level of radiation beyond what the Antares engineering team monitored earlier in the day.  Overnight, Orbital’s engineers conducted an analysis of the radiation levels, but the Antares team decided to postpone the launch to further examine the potential effects of the space radiation on the rocket’s avionics. The Cygnus spacecraft would not be affected by the solar event.

In consultation with NASA, Orbital Sciences will continue to monitor the levels of space radiation with a goal of setting a new launch date as soon as possible. If a launch can be scheduled for Thursday, the targeted launch time would be 1:10 p.m. EST, with Cygnus arriving at the station Sunday morning, January 12 for a grapple at 6:02 a.m. EST. If a launch can be conducted Thursday, NASA TV coverage would begin at 12:45 p.m. EST.

At Mission Control in Houston, the flight control team reported that the station’s Expedition 38 crew was not affected by this solar event and does not require any special precautionary measures.

For Flight Engineers Mike Hopkins, Koichi Wakata and Rick Mastracchio, Wednesday was a mostly off-duty day aboard the complex as they took a welcome opportunity for a breather between the holiday spacewalks in late December and the upcoming arrival of Cygnus. When the space freighter arrives at the station with its 2,780 pounds of cargo, Hopkins and Wakata will use Canadarm2, the station’s 57-foot robotic arm, to reach out and grapple Cygnus and berth it to its docking port on the Earth-facing side of the Harmony node.

Hopkins spent some time changing out a recycle tank in the Environmental Control and Life Support System’s Water Recovery System, which recycles condensation and urine into drinkable water, thereby reducing the amount of fresh water that must be sent to the crew aboard resupply ships.

Hopkins and Wakata also had an opportunity to talk with students around the world through the station’s amateur radio. Wakata reached out to students in Poland and Italy, while Hopkins made contact with Berkeley Middle School in Williamsburg, Va.

On the Russian side of the complex, Commander Oleg Kotov spent some time packing trash inside the ISS Progress 52 cargo ship. That unmanned cargo vehicle is set to undock from the Pirs docking compartment in early February for a destructive re-entry over the Pacific ocean.

Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin collected dosimeter readings for the Matryoshka experiment. Named after the traditional Russian nesting dolls, Matryoshka analyzes the radiation environment onboard the station. Afterward he and Kotov replaced lights in the Russian segment.

Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy conducted the Albedo experiment, which takes a look at using the solar radiation reflected from the Earth to provide power for the station. He also participated in the Coulomb Crystal experiment, gathering data about charged particles in a weightless environment.

Ryazanskiy rounded out the day performing routine maintenance on the life-support system inside the Zvezda service module.

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