US space agency NASA has said that it has delayed the launch of Orbital ATK’s seventh commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo will not be launched any sooner than March 21, said NASA.
NASA’s Orbital ATK's Cygnus cargo mission was earlier scheduled to be launched on March 19. Orbital ATK has plans to launch the Cygnus spacecraft atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket.
The aircraft will be involved in delivering essential crew supplies, equipment and scientific experiments to astronauts aboard the ISS. ULA had discovered a booster hydraulic issue at the pad during prelaunch testing on March 10.
NASA said in a blog post on Friday that both the cargo spacecraft and Atlas V rocket remain secure in their processing facilities.
The Atlas V rocket will carry the Orbital ATK's Cygnus cargo spacecraft from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. It will be packed with about 3,447 kgs of supplies and research for crew aboard the orbiting laboratory.
What is Cygnus spacecraft?
The Cygnus spacecraft is an American automated cargo spacecraft developed by Orbital ATK as part of NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) developmental program. Cygnus is the Latinized Greek word for swan and a northern constellation.
Launched by Orbital's Antares rocket or ULA's Atlas V, the Cygnus is designed to transport supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) following the retirement of the American Space Shuttle.
Since August 2000 ISS resupply missions have been regularly flown by Russian Progress (spacecraft), as well as by the European Automated Transfer Vehicle, and the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle.
With the Cygnus spacecraft and the SpaceX Dragon, NASA seeks to increase its partnerships with domestic commercial aviation and aeronautics industry.