Update: The launch of the Antares rocket was delayed until Monday night, reports space.com.
Virginia-based Orbital ATK will launch its new and improved Antares rocket at 6:03 p.m. Mountain Time Sunday. The flight marks the first since a massive explosion left the company with $15 million in damages and forced Orbital ATK into a two-year hiatus, the Washington Post reports.
Sunday’s mission will bring 5,100 pounds of supplies and cargo to the International Space Station aboard Orbital ATK’s signature Antares rocket.
Since the 2014 accident, Orbital has worked to manufacture new, domestically produced engines for the its rocket. As NASA’s Commercial Cargo contract bound the company to furnish supplies to the space station, Orbital collaborated with Centennial-based United Launch Alliance for a mission aboard the Atlas V rocket.
Orbital ATK’s 2014 explosion rocked the company, then known as Orbital Sciences. Seconds after launch, Antares exploded, destroying both the rocket and the payload and creating a 30-foot deep crater at the Wallops launch pad, according to the Verge.
Here’s some footage of the explosion:
Two investigations led by NASA and Orbital ATK revealed the problem had originated in the engines, which were supplied by Soviet Aerojet Rocketdyne. Although Aerojet Rocketdyne eventually paid a $50 million settlement, Orbital ATK would have a long journey ahead before independently launching another mission.
“I’ve been through a couple failures in my 25-year career, and it’s always like a gut punch. You feel deflated,” Kurt Eberly, the deputy program manager for the Antares, told the Verge.
If all goes well Sunday, Orbital ATK will re-establish itself as a force in the commercial aerospace sector.
If you’re looking to catch the launch, NASA TV will be live streaming the event beginning at 7:00 p.m. EDT (5:00 p.m. MT).
If you live on the East Coast, space.com reports the Wallops Island launch will be visible in the night sky as far north as Boston and as far south as South Carolina.
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