Fire alarm on Earth delays Northrop Grumman cargo launch to space station

The Northrop Grumman Antares NG-18 rocket on the launch pad at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Nov. 6, 2022.
The launch of a Northrop Grumman Antares rocket carrying NASA cargo to the space station was delayed by a fire alarm in mission control on Nov. 6, 2022. (Image credit: NASA TV)

A Northrop Grumman rocket carrying more than 4 tons of supplies for the International Space Station will have to wait at least one more day to launch after a fire alarm at its mission control center thwarted a liftoff early Sunday (Nov. 6). 

The Antares rocket was about 10 minutes away from a planned liftoff at 5:50 a.m. EST (1050 GMT) from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia, when Northrop Grumman called off the flight. A fire alarm at the company's control center in nearby Dulles, Virginia, forced a building evacuation, preventing launch controllers from going through with the launch. 

"Our thoughts are with their team their their safety is at the top most important, so we are going to try it again tomorrow," NASA spokesperson Chelsey Ballarte said during live commentary. Liftoff is now set for Monday, Nov. 7, at 5:27 a.m. EST (1027 GMT).  You can watch the Cygnus cargo launch live on, courtesy of NASA TV, beginning at 5 a.m. EST (1000 GMT). 

Northrop Grumman will use its Antares rocket to launch the uncrewed NG-18 Cygnus spacecraft to the International Space Station on a mission to deliver more than 8,200 pounds (3,720 kilograms) of supplies to the lab's astronaut crew. It is the 18th cargo mission for NASA by Northrop Grumman. 

Related: Northrop Grumman's Private Antares Rocket: 5 Surprising Facts

The upcoming launch is also Northrop Grumman's heaviest delivery yet, with the company squeezing in about 44 pounds (20 kg) of additional supplies due to refinements to the launch system. Among its precious cargo are a bioprinter that will attempt to print human knee cartilage in space and cow ovarian cells to study how weightlessness affects the growth of cells. 

If all goes well, the NG-18 Cygnus cargo ship — which has been named the SS Sally Ride in honor of astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman in space who died in 2012  — should arrive at the space station on Wednesday (Nov. 10).
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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.