A Northrop Grumman Cygnus supply ship — named the S.S. Katherine Johnson for the trailblazing NASA mathematician portrayed in “Hidden Figures” — was loaded with time-sensitive cargo Friday at a launch pad in Virginia for a midday blastoff Saturday toward the International Space Station.
The final few items were sealed inside the Cygnus cargo freighter Friday afternoon at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, a facility owned by the state of Virginia co-located with NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. With the last cargo loaded, ground crews planned to close the Cygnus catch, re-install the Antares rocket’s payload shroud, and raise the launcher vertical on pad 0A at Wallops.
The final preparations overnight will also include the attachment of the Antares rocket’s liquid oxygen loading line, and the arming of pyrotechnic ordnance before the start of the five-hour countdown leading to liftoff at 12:36:50 p.m. EST (1736:50 GMT) Saturday.
The 139-foot-tall (42.5-meter) Antares rocket has a five-minute launch window to take off Saturday. Forecasters at