NASA Plans Spacewalks, Postpones Orbital Launch

December 17, 2013. 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.

Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus spacecraft, atop its Antares rocket, will be returned to a horizontal position and transported back to the Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF). At the HIF, the Antares payload fairing will be removed to allow the Cygnus team to open the payload module hatch and remove time-critical payloads for safekeeping until the next launch attempt, which will occur no earlier than January 13, 2014. 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 December 11.

NASA currently plans for two Expedition 38 astronauts to venture outside the space station December 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.

For NASA TV streaming video, schedule and downlink information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

Source: NASA/Orbital Sciences Corporation