Orbital Sciences' Cygnus Craft Delayed From Docking With ISS Due To Software Glitch

By Josh Lieberman on September 23, 2013 12:11 PM EDT

ISS
Orbital Sciences' Cygnus craft has delayed docking with the International Space Station (pictured here) due to a software glitch. NASA says that the problem has been fixed, and the Cygnus will reattempt docking no earlier than Saturday. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The commercial cargo ship Cygnus's supply mission to the International Space Station hit a snag on Sunday after a software glitch caused the craft to abort its scheduled docking. Astronauts aboard the ISS will now have to wait at least five more days before receiving Cygnus's bounty of chocolate (as well as 1,300 pounds of other foods and equipment). Cygnus was within 2.5 miles of the ISS when the software glitch caused the craft to abort docking.

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"Orbital Sciences has confirmed that this morning at around 1:30 a.m. EDT, Cygnus established direct data contact with the ISS and found that some of the data received had values that it did not expect, causing Cygnus to reject the data," NASA officials wrote on Sunday. "This mandated an interruption of the approach sequence. Orbital has subsequently found the causes of this discrepancy."

Orbital Sciences Corporation, the creators of Cygnus and the second company to ever supply the ISS, has developed and tested a software patch that will allow Cygnus to reattempt docking no earlier than Saturday.

Initial reports stated that Cygnus would try docking again 48 hours after its initial failure. But because a Soyuz craft carrying three Russian astronauts will dock to the ISS this Wednesday, the Cygnus docking is being delayed, as the timeframe between the two dockings was too tight.

NASA has high hopes for Orbital Sciences' ability to send a resupply mission to the ISS. The private company SpaceX has supplied the ISS and is contracted to do so in the future, but NASA would prefer not to only have the option of using only one private company. Orbital Science's has a $1.9 billion contract with NASA to supply ISS eight times over the next four years.

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