SpaceX, Orbital launches delayed

Antares Cygnus launch

An Antares rocket lifts off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) on Wallops Island, Virginia, on January 9, 2014. The rocket placed a Cygnus cargo spacecraft into orbit on the first of eight such missions Orbital is under contract to perform for NASA. (credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

A continuing investigation into the failure of a first stage engine during a static fire test last month has delayed Orbital Sciences Corporation’s next cargo mission to the ISS until at least July 1. Orbital announced Monday that the launch, which previously was planned for no earlier than June 17, would now take place no earlier than July 1. “The new launch schedule reflects the timing of the investigation into the cause of an AJ26 engine failure that occurred in late May at NASA’s Stennis Space Center during customary acceptance testing,” the company said in an update on the website for the “Orb-2″ mission to the ISS, adding that there were no other issues with the upcoming cargo mission. Orb-2 is the second of eight cargo missions to the station under Orbital’s current contract with NASA.

The next launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, for ORBCOMM, is also being delayed. The mission, previously scheduled for Thursday night, is now planned for June 15, although ORBCOMM’s website about the mission has not been updated with the new launch time. The launch had been planned for mid-May but was postponed by what the company called a helium leak in the pressurization system of the rocket’s first stage.

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