On Tuesday, December 17, NASA informed the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) that the December 19, 2013, launch of Orbital Sciences 1 (Orb-1) out of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), Wallops Island, Virginia, has been postponed until January 2014. Required spacewalks to replace a coolant pump on the International Space Station have taken priority over the launch of Orb-1, which is set to transport a significant amount of cargo to ISS including the SSEP experiments. The NASA Press Release is provided below.
All 23 SSEP student flight teams were informed yesterday, and we are awaiting word from NanoRacks as to a new “No Earlier Than” (NET) launch date. The SSEP Falcon II payload of 12 Mission 3b experiments, and the SSEP Orion payload of 11 Mission 4 experiments, are being returned to NanoRacks by NASA. NanoRacks will maintain refrigeration of the payloads. 17 of 23 teams have determined that refrigeration of their experiments until January launch is acceptable. 2 teams have requested experiment refill of the mini-labs. 2 teams have requested freezing to put their experiments into stasis. 2 teams are assessing if refill is needed.
We do not as yet know if there will be enough time for refill of the experiments, which is critically dependent on the launch date. We are assessing the situation. Mini-labs would need to be returned to teams, teams would need to secure additional fluids and solids, flush and refill, and ship back to NanoRacks in Houston. NanoRacks would likely need to have the mini-labs at least 10 days in advance of launch for payload integration and handover to NASA for vehicle integration.
December 17, 2013
NASA Postpones Orbital Launch, Sets Spacewalks to Repair Faulty Station Pump Module
NASA managers are postponing the upcoming Orbital Sciences commercial cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station to proceed with a series of spacewalks to replace a faulty pump module on the space station.
NASA Television will air a news briefing at 3 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Dec. 18 to preview the spacewalks.
Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus spacecraft, atop its Antares rocket, now will launch no earlier than January. The postponement of the Antares launch will allow ample time for the station crew to focus on repairing a faulty pump module that stopped working properly on Dec. 11.
NASA currently plans for two Expedition 38 astronauts to venture outside the space station Dec. 21, 23 and 25. NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins will remove a pump module that has a failed valve. They will replace it with an existing spare that is stored on an external stowage platform. The pump is associated with one of the station’s two external cooling loops, which circulate ammonia outside the station to keep both internal and external equipment cool. Each of the three spacewalks will begin at 7:10 a.m. and is scheduled to last six and a half hours. NASA TV coverage will begin at 6:15 a.m.
Wednesday’s spacewalks preview briefing will take place from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Reporters may attend the 3 p.m. briefing at Johnson and other participating NASA centers, or ask questions by calling the Johnson newsroom at 281-483-5111 no later than 2:45 p.m. Briefers will include:
— Michael Suffredini, International Space Station program manager
— Dina Contella, International Space Station flight director
— Allison Bolinger, lead spacewalk officer
The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in the U.S., and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education internationally. It is enabled through a strategic partnership with NanoRacks LLC, working with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory. SSEP is the first pre-college STEM education program that is both a U.S. national initiative and implemented as an on-orbit commercial space venture.
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), Carnegie Institution of Washington, NASA Nebraska Space Grant Consortium, and Subaru of America, Inc., are National Partners on the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program.