Antares Rocket Launch Carrying XinaBox Experiments Delayed
Sunday night in South Africa and we were waiting with great excitement, watching the build up to the launch of a Northrop Grumman Antares rocket from Wallops Island, USA. Included in the payload: XinaBox hardware, bound for the International Space Station (ISS). NASA TV shows a live feed of every launch which includes all the mission status updates: when you have something at stake it is nail-biting to watch. With just three minutes left in the launch window we heard those two little words we dreaded: "mission abort"...
There are many reasons why a space mission can be aborted before launch, such as technical or mechanical failure, re-calibration, weather conditions not being optimal or even overhead objects, such as a satellite, that could cause a collision if the launch proceeds. In this case, the launch was aborted due to unusual readings from a ground support sensor, after a prior delay to the launch time by five minutes.
The next launch window is Thursday, 13 February 2020. If the launch attempt is successful then the spacecraft is scheduled to reach the space station on Saturday, 15 February. We are very excited and hopeful that this is launch attempt is successful - if so our xChips will be on the ISS this time next week!