Solar storm delays space station supply flight

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - A strong solar storm is interfering with the latest grocery run to the International Space Station.

On Wednesday, Orbital Sciences Corp. delayed its space station delivery mission for the third time. The company's unmanned rocket, the Antares, was set to blast off from Wallops Island, Va., with a capsule full of supplies and science experiments, including ants for an educational project.

Another launch attempt will be made Thursday afternoon.

The solar flare peaked Tuesday afternoon and more activity is expected, but Orbital Sciences has determined that the space weather is within acceptable risk levels. The sun is at the peak of a weak 11-year storm cycle.

Although the solar storm barely rates moderate, it is having an impact on Earth. Some passenger jets are being diverted from the poles to avoid potential communication and health issues. GPS devices also are at risk.

Meanwhile, NASA says the space station has won a four-year extension, pushing its projected end-of-lifetime to at least 2024.

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