Super (September Space) Sunday

Sunday is shaping up to be a particularly big milestone for commercial spaceflight. On Thursday, Orbital Sciences announced it is now planning a second attempt to berth its Cygnus cargo spacecraft with the International Space Station in the early morning hours of Sunday. Assuming its plans are approved by NASA, Orbital will command Cygnus to gradually approach the space station in the early morning hours of Sunday; an exact timeline of events has not yet been released. Orbital originally planned to have Cygnus arrive at the station last Sunday, but that approach was aborted because of a software glitch. Orbital noted in its latest update that the problem was fixed with just one line of code.

That berthing will be followed just hours later by the first launch of the Falcon 9 v1.1 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Base officials confirmed Wednesday that the launch is scheduled for 9 am PDT (12 pm EDT, 1600 GMT) Sunday. The Air Force release didn’t indicate how long the launch window was, but a local newspaper, the Lompoc Record, said it would be open for three hours. If Sunday’s launch is scrubbed, there will be another opportunity on Monday, Elon Musk tweeted on Wednesday.

Those two events make for a busy Sunday morning, but the good news is that if they take place on schedule, they’ll be done in time for Sunday afternoon’s slate of NFL games and the final day of the MLB regular season…

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