The next US cargo supply trip to the International Space Station has been postponed until Sunday due to Hurricane Nicole, which is bearing down on Bermuda, NASA said. Initially set for Thursday, Orbital ATK will now launch its unmanned Cygnus cargo ship no earlier than Sunday from Wallops Island, Virginia, the US space agency said on Monday.
Nicole is expected to reach Bermuda on Thursday, and could interfere with key equipment used to assist with the launch which has been rescheduled at 8:03 pm (0003 GMT Monday).
“The tracking station at Bermuda is required to conduct the Antares launch from Wallops,” said Steven Kremer, chief of the Wallops Range and Mission Management Office. “The ability to support a launch will depend on the impact the storm has on not only our systems, but also the overall Bermuda infrastructure.”
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Once the storm has passed Bermuda, experts will assess the damage and see what, if any, steps are needed to make the site operational again. Nicole was upgraded from a tropical storm to a Category One hurricane yesterday at 2100 GMT by the US National Hurricane Center, which issued a hurricane warning for Bermuda.
Packing winds of 80 miles (130 kilometers) per hour, the hurricane is currently the weakest on the Saffir-Simpson scale’s 1-5 ranking, but is expected to strengthen in the coming days. Nicole could become a major hurricane, meaning Category Three or higher, by Wednesday, forecasters said.