Wallops Island, Virginia: 02:45. As we disembark the buses we hear “Check item 347,” and remember that the OA-9 launch team has been “on console,” or on the job, since 10:00 pm, almost 5 hours earlier than us. The clouds are broken and allow us a few glimpses of stars, but we are also able to see clouds lighting up, and an occasional flash of lightning from a storm just a few miles offshore.
Less than an hour before launch, the Antares 230 launch vehicle is fueled and readied for liftoff. Photo credit: Jared Haworth / We Report Space
Countdown and item check-off continues as cameras get set, and technical aspects of photography are discussed. Weathers apps are consulted to try and asses the weather risk to the launch. During the countdown an announcement is made that launch will be pushed to the very back of the window due to cloud cover. There is only a 5 minute opportunity.
Why 5 minutes? Payloads are limited and a balance between maneuvering fuel and launch window has been set to allow more opportunity to launch. Cygnus will end up using slightly more fuel to catch up to the ISS but a ...