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Black mold delays space station cargo launch from Cape Canaveral

Mold found at KSC in bags bound for ISS

It takes more than six hours to fly from New York to London, but now, in slightly less time, astronauts can go from Earth to the International Space Station.
It takes more than six hours to fly from New York to London, but now, in slightly less time, astronauts can go from Earth to the International Space Station.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – NASA is investigating the source of black mold that contaminated cargo bags bound for the International Space Station, delaying the next launch of supplies from Florida's Space Coast.

News 6 partner Florida Today reported that an Orbital ATK Cygnus craft, which had been scheduled to launch March 10 atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, now is targeting a liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station no earlier than March 22.

NASA said microbial analysis during a routine inspection of cargo bags at Kennedy Space Center found evidence of common black mold on two bags. The space agency decided to disinfect all bags, which required removing cargo that had been packed in the Cygnus.

It's the first time mold has caused contamination during processing of ISS cargo.

"Micro-organisms are everywhere and this type of micro-organism is not uncommon," said Dan Huot, a spokesman at NASA's Johnson Space Center, home of the ISS program. "NASA inspects, samples and disinfects cargo bags to ensure a safe environment for the crew members."

Earlier inspections had determined the Cygnus vehicle's pressurized module was clean. The module arrived at KSC last month after shipping across the Atlantic from Thales Alenia Space facilities in Italy.

Lockheed Martin is the contractor responsible for stowing ISS cargo under NASA's Cargo Mission Contract.