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Monday, October 27, 2014

Orbital Science will make first night launch at 6:45 p.m. EDT Tonight...

The third of eight supply missions for Orbital Sciences` Cygnus unmanned capsule will launch tonight from Wallops Flight Facility under a $1.9 billion contract with NASA. On-board the craft will be be an assortment of vital supplies, totaling some 5,000 plus pounds. Food, tools, and replacement parts, as well as science experiments, make up the bulk of the cargo. The Cygnus will ride atop an Antares rocket for the scheduled 6:45 p.m. EDT launch. Weather conditions are looking favorable and launch operations are proceeding as planned.

     Onlookers from Connecticut to South Carolina should be afforded a great view as the rocket takes to the night sky from the coastal Virginia launch complex. The craft will spend about a week playing catch-up to the ISS before docking for a month stay. A two week engineering test phase is scheduled after undocking from the space station before reentry into the atmosphere where it will burn up as planned. Orbital Science and SpaceX, which has a contract for 12 re-supply missions, provide the backbone of NASA`s commercial supply concept to keep the station well stocked since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011. SpaceX just completed its fourth mission Saturday as it`s 'Dragon' capsule landed safely in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California. Unlike the Cygnus, which is designed to burn up on reentry, the Dragon returns intact and is currently the only vehicle that has the capability to carry cargo back from the station. For those wishing to watch the launch live, you can watch the launch webcast live...here... on Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV, beginning at 5:45 p.m. EDT.

UPDATE...Tonight`s launch has been scrubbed due to an unauthorized boat in the down range area of operations!