On the bright side, the orbiting lab has won a four-year extension, pushing its projected end-of-lifetime to at least 2024, a full decade from now.
"This is a big plus for us," said
The company's unmanned rocket, the Antares, was set to blast off from
Although the solar storm barely rated moderate, some passenger jets were being diverted from the poles to avoid potential communication and health issues. GPS devices also were at risk.
But the six men aboard the space station were safe from the solar fallout,
The storm will also push the colorful northern lights further south than usual to the northern U.S.
The Cygnus was supposed to fly in December, but a breakdown in the space station's cooling system required repairs by spacewalking astronauts. The repair job, which was completed on
"All we're really delaying is the success that's going to come when we execute this mission," he told reporters.
The solar flare peaked Tuesday afternoon, but more activity was expected. Company officials said they would decide by Wednesday evening whether to attempt a Thursday launch or wait for the sun to settle down. The sun is at the peak of a weak 11-year storm cycle.
Experts are evaluating just how much solar flaring the Antares can endure during liftoff. That will determine when the rocket will fly, Elias said.
That's good news for scientific research aboard the orbiting lab, Gerstenmaier said.
The first space station piece rocketed into orbit in 1998. Construction ended the same year the shuttle program did, allowing inhabitants to concentrate on research.
The major partners in the station are the U.S.,
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