NASA postpones Virginia’s Orbital rocket launch to repair Space Station pump module

Posted at 9:41 AM, Dec 18, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-18 09:41:39-05

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA HEADQUARTERS) - 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. WATCH HERE.

Orbital Sciences' Cygnus spacecraft, atop its Antares rocket at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, now will launch no earlier than mid-January.

antares_on_pad_2Image Credit: NASA

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.

Wednesday's spacewalks preview briefing will take place from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Briefers will include:

-- Michael Suffredini, International Space Station program manager

-- Dina Contella, International Space Station flight director

-- Allison Bolinger, lead spacewalk officer

For NASA TV streaming video, schedule and downlink information, visit:

For more information about the International Space Station and its crew, visit:

Joshua Buck
Headquarters, Washington

Josh Byerly
Johnson Space Center, Houston