For the third time this week, NASA will attempt to have an International Space Station resupply cargo craft launch from the spaceport at Virginia’s NASA Wallops Flight Facility. The launch was originally scheduled for the evening of September 29 but was scrubbed due to weather in the Mid Atlantic. With the weather cleared, a new launch date was set for last night at 9:38pm. However, the launch was scrubbed about 2 minutes and 40 seconds before liftoff due to a problem with a component of ground support equipment. With that issue resolved, NASA plans to launch the rocket this evening at 9:16pm. When the rocket does launch, people as far away as Maine and Georgia may be able to view the rocket launching from the Virginia coast spaceport.
According to an update released by NASA today, the CRS-14 mission is facing 90% favorable weather conditions at the scheduled launch time.
Launching tonight is the Northrop Grumman Antares rocket which stands at 139 feet tall. Topped with the Cygnus cargo craft, this launch will be Northrop Grumman’s 14th commercial resupply services mission to deliver NASA science investigations, supplies and equipment to the International Space Station.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the NASA Visitor Center at Wallops will not be open for this mission and people are discouraged from going out in groups to watch the launch in-person. However, the launch could be visible across a large part of the the U.S. East Coast if the weather and light pollution cooperate.
NASA TV will carry the launch with special coverage beginning at 10 pm.
This mission, known as NG CRS-14, is an uncrewed launch which will bring food, supplies, and science to the International Space Station. Experiments tied to this launch include:
- Assessment of Nutritional Value and Growth Parameters of Space-grown Plants (Plant Habitat-02), which will cultivate radishes in the Advanced Plant Habitat facility as a model plant that is nutritious and edible. The ability to reliably grow nutritionally-valuable food crops in space which will be critical for NASA’s human exploration of the Moon and Mars.
- The Universal Waste Management System (UWMS) that will demonstrate the technology for a compact toilet for astronauts to use on deep-space exploration missions.
- The Leveraging Microgravity to Screen Onco-selective Messenger RNAs for Cancer Immunotherapy (Onco-Selectors) investigation to leverage microgravity to test a biologic drug that could be used for the treatment of leukemia.
- An investigation from the University of Puerto Rico to test oxidation of ammonia in microgravity as a potential means of producing water and energy for future long-term space missions
- A 360 degree virtual reality camera from Montreal-based film studio Felix & Paul, which is set to be taken outside the space station to capture a spacewalk in cinematic virtual reality
Northrop Grumman and SpaceX share launch responsibilities for getting cargo to the International Space Station. SpaceX launches their Dragon cargo capsules from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida while Northrop Grumman uses the NASA Wallops facility on the coast of Virginia to launch their Cygnus spacecraft.