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Aircraft Overhead Forces Orbital To Cancel Cargo Launch

The Orbital ATK rocket launching at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on October 17, 2016.

The unexpected sighting of an aircraft forced Orbital ATK on November 11 to cancel its planned launch of an unmanned cargo ship to the International Space Station.

Just moments before the Antares rocket was to blast off from Wallops Island, in the U.S. state of Virginia, carrying the Cygnus cargo ship at 1337 Prague time, mission control called, "Abort, abort, abort!"

The next opportunity for launch is the morning of November 12 at 1314 Prague time.

The mission is the eighth for Orbital ATK, which has a $1.9 billion contract with NASA to resupply the space station over several years.

The barrel-shaped Cygnus is packed with 3,356 kilograms of food, supplies, equipment, and science experiments.

If the launch goes ahead as scheduled, the cargo ship should arrive at the orbiting outpost on November 13.

The current crew of six astronauts on duty at the space station include three Americans, one Italian, and two Russians.

Based on reporting by AFP and AP