Solar storm delays space station supply flight

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — 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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APPHOTO NY720: FILE - This May 23, 2010 image provided by NASA shows the International Space Station with the Earth in the background made from the space shuttle Atlantis after undocking. On Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, NASA said the White House was poised to announce an extension of the space station's lifetime until at least 2024. The previous end-of-life date was 2020. (AP Photo/NASA) (23 May 2010)

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APPHOTO NY729: In this Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014 image made available by NASA, a giant cloud of solar particles, a coronal mass ejection, explodes off the sun, lower right, captured by the European Space Agency and NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. The sun is obscured to show the atmosphere around it. The solar flare caused the cancellation of a launch to the International Space Station on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/ESA, NASA - SOHO) (8 Jan 2014)

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APPHOTO VABI101: An Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket sits on the launch pad at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va. at sunrise on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. On Wednesday, Orbital Sciences Corp. decided to cancel the scheduled launch to the International Space Station due to an unusually high level of space radiation from a solar flare that might interfere with electronic equipment in the rocket. (AP Photo/NASA, Bill Ingalls) MANDATORY CREDIT: NASA, BILL INGALLS (8 Jan 2014)

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