Weather finally cooperates with NASA, ISS resupply launch successful


A couple of Raspberry Pis are on the way to the International Space Station at last, after a resupply launch delayed three times due to bad weather finally hauled itself into orbit.

The original launches suffered rain last Thursday and high winds on Friday and Saturday, but things finally went smoothly Sunday evening for the Cygnus launcher.

The Raspberry Pis are joining Brit astronaut Tim Peake, with students last year offered a competition to have some of their code run in space under the Astro Pi competition.

As Raspberry explained back in May, the space-bound Pis needed some fairly dramatic case-mods for the space environment.

“There is a rule that any surface, that the crew can touch, must not reach or exceed 45 degrees Celsius. Our Jonathan Bell and SSTL’s Nimal Navarathinam did extensive thermal simulations to work out the requirements”, the company says.

Without gravity, convection isn't as efficient on the ISS as on Earth (it relies solely on fan-driven air-flow). Having an all-over heatsink helps avoid any part of the case exceed that 45°C upper limit.

The successful launch also broke an altitude record for the devices, as the company later Tweeted:

With the mission finally on its way to the ISS, the crew-less Cygnus craft called SS Deke Slayton II will deliver its three tons of supplies and equipment to the ISS. "Bad Astronomer" Phil Plait tells us it will stay berthed for about a month while the supplies are offloaded.

Since Orbital Sciences is redesigning its Antares rockets (following last year's expensive and catastrophic explosion), the module was carried aboard an Atlas V.

Cygnus is now in orbit and will be collected by the ISS on Wednesday, US Eastern time. ®

Bootnote: Raspberry lists the winners of the Astro Pi competition here. ®

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