Space Station Cargo Launch Spoiled by a Wayward Sailboat

Image: Antares at Sunrise
Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard, is seen on Launch Pad-0A at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia at sunrise on Sunday. The robotic cargo spacecraft was due to be launched to the International Space Station on Monday night, but liftoff had to be postponed due to a wayward boat in the range zone.Joel Kowsky / NASA

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A commercial cargo spaceship was poised to make a gorgeous nighttime liftoff on Monday, visible to millions of people along America's East Coast. But then a boat got in the way.

The unexpected presence of a boat downrange of NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia forced launch controllers to scrub Monday's planned liftoff of Orbital Sciences' Antares rocket, which was set to send a robotic Cygnus spacecraft on a resupply run to the International Space Station.

The nighttime rocket launch is now set for Tuesday at 6:22 p.m. ET. Weather permitting, the launch could be seen by observers along the East Coast, as far north as Massachusetts and as far south as South Carolina, NASA officials said. [How to See the Nighttime Antares Rocket Launch]

You can watch a webcast of the launch live beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET Tuesday, courtesy of NASA.

Mission controllers tried repeatedly to contact the wayward boat, but they couldn't get it to move in time.

"This was strictly a range issue this evening that terminated the count just 10 minutes before the scheduled liftoff time at the end of a 10-minute window," NASA commentator Rob Navias said during a webcast of the attempted launch.

Cygnus is set to deliver 5,000 pounds (2,268 kilograms) of food, supplies and scientific experiments to the astronauts aboard the station. Virginia-based Orbital Sciences holds a $1.9 billion deal with NASA to make eight such supply runs and has already completed two of them.

This is a condensed version of a report from Read the full report. Follow Mike Wall on Twitter and Google+. Follow on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.