This evening’s planned launch of the Orbital Sciences Antares rocket had to be canceled just 12 minutes before liftoff, due to the unexpected separation of the booster’s umbilical cable while the vehicle was on the launch pad. This is the first attempt to fly the Antares rocket, which is a commercial craft and direct competitor to the SpaceX Falcon 9.
Aside from being the first mission of a new commercial spacecraft, a considerable event itself, this is also the vehicle which will be putting NASA’s PhoneSats into orbit. The PhoneSats, as we’ve covered previously, are three small CubeSat satellites which are powered by Nexus smartphones. Coming in at just $3,500 each, the PhoneSat mission aims to prove that extremely low cost spacecraft can do real science in low Earth orbit.
The PhoneSat mission could be considered an American analog to the highly successful STRaND-1 mission.
While it’s too early to know for sure, it will likely take 48 hours or so before the Antares will make another launch attempt. This mission is only an orbital test, and as such won’t be meeting the International Space Station or any other spacecraft in orbit, so there isn’t as strict a time requirement for when the vehicle will actually launch.
Within the next 24 hours there should be an announcement as the next launch window as decided by NASA and Orbital Sciences. Here’s hoping that the Antares will soon safely liftoff and deliver the innovative PhoneSats into orbit.