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East Coast test rocket launch scrubbed

April 17. 2013 5:34PM
Associated Press

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(AP) A private company contracted by NASA to make supply runs to the International Space Station scrubbed a Wednesday test launch of an unmanned rocket, saying cables linked to the rocket's second stage apparently detached too early in blustery winds.

The towering Antares rocket had been scheduled to blast off Wednesday afternoon from Wallops Island on Virginia's Eastern Shore when the countdown clock was halted 12 minutes before a 5 p.m. launch window was to have opened.

Barry Benesky, a spokesman for Dulles-based Orbital Sciences Corp., said it wasn't immediately clear when officials would attempt a launch.

He said officials initially suspected brisk winds had caused a premature separation of a cord linked to the second stage of the rocket. But he said experts were investigating what happened and would release more details later about what prompted the launch to be called off.

The company had said earlier that low cloud cover hugging the Virginia coast was a vexing concern during the day. Amid weather concerns, officials had already shortened their window for a possible launch to just 10 minutes starting Wednesday afternoon.

The planned launch by the Washington area commercial firm was designed to test whether a practice payload could reach orbit and safely separate from the rocket.

Orbital, based near Washinton, D.C., is one of two private companies contracted to restock the space station by NASA, which ended its shuttle program in 2011. California-based SpaceX completed its third supply run to the station last month.

Orbital executives have said they are conducting the tests as they prove their capability to carry out several supply runs.

Associated Press

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