An American spacecraft loaded with consumables for the International Space Station is ready to start Thursday, marking the first trip since a Soyuz rocket with three people failed last month.
At the last moment, NASA added some additional accessories to the three groundbreaking researchers, just in the case. Next Soyuz launch, with three more astronauts on board – one Russian, one Canadian and one American – is scheduled for December 3rd.
The additional gear contains additional spare parts for the station's water recovery system and urine processor, told a spokesman from NASA for AFP.
Several such systems already exist on ISS, but the additional features are intended to serve as backup if the station passes through a period when nobody is on board. The current crew of three is just slated to remain until January.
The astronauts have been living on the hired outpost since 2000, arriving and departing in herds of two to seven at a time.
The cargo will be transported to space on a Cygnus freighter, launched by an Antares rocket from Wallops Island, Virginia, at 4:49 pm (09h49 GMT) on Thursday.
That is, if the weather co-operates. By the end of Tuesday, the forecast was only 30 percent favorable, with heavy clouds and rain likely to interfere with the launch plans, NASA said.
After the Soyuz rocket failed on October 11, only minutes after the outbreak – the first such event in the post-Soviet spacecraft story – Russia interrupted all space flights.
The astronauts on board were not injured. Russia has then blamed the problem on a sensor that was damaged during assembly at Baikonur cosmodrome.
Russia is currently the only nation in the world that can launch people to space. The United States capability ended in 2011 when the space shuttle program retired after 30 years.
© 2018 AFP