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Jason DavisSeptember 22, 2013

Cygnus Aborts Station Approach, Will Retry Tuesday

We'll have to wait another 48 hours to get our first glimpse of the Swan in space.

The commercial spacecraft Cygnus was forced to abort its first attempt to berth with the International Space Station Sunday morning due to a software glitch. Cygnus established contact with the station around 1:30 a.m. EDT (5:30 UTC), but Orbital Sciences Corporation says a “data discrepancy” occurred, mandating a halt to the approach. NASA didn't elaborate much further, saying “some of the data received had values that [Cygnus] did not expect.”

Orbital is currently developing a software patch and running it through ground simulations, and expects to begin uploading the fix late Sunday. The next approach attempt will occur on Tuesday, but an exact time has not yet been announced. Regardless of when capture occurs, the scheduling will be tight; Soyuz TMA-10M is preparing to lift off Wednesday afternoon from Kazakhstan carrying Oleg Kotov, Sergey Ryazanskiy and Michael Hopkins to the station. Docking of the Soyuz is scheduled for late Wednesday (EDT).

For more on the Orbital ORB-D1 mission, check out my preview article. Also, don't miss this stunning false-color infrared image NASA photographer Bill Ingalls captured of last week's Antares liftoff:

Antares in infrared

NASA / Bill Ingalls

Antares in infrared
Using a modified SLR camera, NASA photographer Bill Ingalls captured this infrared image of Antares rising from the launch pad on Sept. 18, 2013.

Read more: commercial spaceflight, International Space Station

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Jason Davis

Journalist and Digital Editor for The Planetary Society
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