Bad weather has threatened to stall a serious space station delivery for NASA on Friday.
An unmanned Atlas rocket was set to lift off at sunset with 7,400 pounds of supplies for the International Space Station after Thursday’s attempt at a launch was rained out.
Early Friday, the forecast looked better, but thick clouds were still a huge concern for the 5:33 p.m. planned liftoff.
Six space station astronauts have been without U.S. shipments since April. Two private companies hired by NASA to replenish the orbiting lab are stuck here on Earth with grounded rockets, RiverBender reported. And Orbital ATK bought the veteran Atlas V, another company’s rocket, for this particular supply mission.
Orbital’s last supply run ended in an explosion just seconds after liftoff in October 2014, CBS News reported. And SpaceX, the other supplier, experienced a launch failure in June.
The U.S. hasn’t been the only country to experience failure. Russia also lost a supply ship earlier in the year.
However, the country has picked up some slack and so has Japan. And a Russian resupply mission is scheduled for just before Christmas, according to CBS.
There are some serious-needed supplies inside of Orbital’s cargo carrier, which is called Cygnus. NASA usually likes to have six months worth of food on the space station, but because of the three failed flights, they are a little behind.
Space station program manager Kirk Shireman says it will probably take another year to get the astronauts’ pantry filled up again–as long as no other accidents occur. And there’s more than just food aboard Cygnus: spacewalking gear, air-supply tanks, toiletries, clothes and science experiments.
Orbital is planning to launch another Atlas rocket, by United Launch Alliance, in March. In May, the company’s Antares rocket will launch from Virginia.
SpaceX is looking to restart their station deliveries in January with its Falcon rockets.