Orbital ATK launch scrubbed
The Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft aboard NASA/Bill Ingalls

The launch of a Nasa rocket to the International Space Station (ISS) has been delayed a day after a small plane flew into restricted airspace on Saturday (11 November).

Nasa's commercial shipper,Orbital ATK's Antares rocket was set to blast off from the agency's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, carrying more than 3,300kg of supplies, food, hardware, and research equipment on the Cygnus spacecraft for the Expedition 53 crew.

Everything seemed fine till the last minute when mission controllers abruptly announced scrubbing of the mission due to the presence of a small, personal aircraft in the vicinity of the launch pad, which was a restricted flying zone.

The unexpected entry of the flying guest has led Orbital ATK, which has a $1.9bn (£1.4bn) contract with Nasa for ISS resupply missions, to postpone the rocket launch to November 12, at 7:14am EST (12:14 GMT). This also means that the payload won't reach the ISS before November 14.

According to Orbital ATK officials, the small, personal aircraft was flying 10km offshore at an approximate height of 500ft. Federal Aviation Administration, which issues notices about flying restrictions before rocket launches like this one, is investigating the matter, but as of now, it is still unclear who was piloting the plane or why it wasn't detected earlier.

Thousands of viewers were in attendance at the facility to see the rocket launch on Saturday, but the unexpected turn of events didn't board well with the spectators in freezing cold temperatures, particularly those who came four to five hours early to secure the best viewing spots.

As Nasa described, weather conditions are 90% favourable for the launch reattempt on November 12. You can watch the live stream of the launch at NASA TV.