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Commercial shipper Orbital ATK was within two minutes of launching its unmanned Antares rocket at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia when the aircraft appeared six miles offshore, flying at around 500ft. It's scheduled to arrive at the station early Monday morning.

"The launch of Orbital ATK's Antares rocket carrying the Cygnus cargo spacecraft has scrubbed for Saturday after an aircraft was detected in the vicinity of the launch pad", said NASA in a statement.

The mission will be the eighth for Orbital ATK, which has a $1.9bn (£1.44bn) contract with NASA to resupply the ISS over several years.

"We were working no issues until an aircraft flew into restricted airspace", the aerospace company said on Twitter. "We are now de-tanking and will be ready to go tomorrow morning".

NASA TV will begin coverage at 7 a.m. on the agency website.

Lift-off was set for 7:37 a.m.at Virginia's Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on the Eastern Shore.

Once in orbit, the Antares rocket will deploy a spacecraft that will deliver supplies and experiments to the International Space Station.

Hosting its first major mission in more than a year, Wallops attracted the customary crush of visitors.

It was cold even by the standards of rocket science. Past launches have met a series of weather delays, but NASA is expecting a 95 percent favorable forecast.

Should skies remain clear, it was predicted the rocket launched would be seen from as far north as Boston to as far south as SC.

In September, competitor Northrup Grumman announced plans to buy Orbital for $7.8 billion.


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