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Black Mold Delays International Space Station Resupply Mission

Cygnus cargo modules carry supplies bound for the International Space Station. Photo: NASA
Cygnus cargo modules carry supplies bound for the International Space Station. Photo: NASA

Black mold is delaying the launch of an International Space Station resupply mission. The mold was detected during a routine inspection of the cargo heading up to the station.

It was discovered on two bags packed for shipment on a Cygnus cargo module at the Kennedy Space Center slated for a launch early next month.

The black mold prompted NASA to remove all the cargo and disinfect everything, said NASA Spokesperson Dan Huot.  “Just to help keep the crew extra safe, we take these precautionary measures to limit any potential of something like that flying into space.”

Huot says this is the first time NASA found black mold on cargo bound for the space station and the first time they’ve had to unload cargo to disinfect. Mold isn’t a big threat to the space station. Still, NASA doesn’t want to take any chances.

“These processes are in place for a reason," said Huot. "This wasn’t anything special, this is something we do with every single flight going to the International Space Stations, and this is just an example of why we do these things.”

The launch, part of NASA’s commercial resupply contract, is delayed until late-march – a nearly two-week setback.

The agency says astronauts on board have plenty of supplies.

Brendan Byrne is Central Florida Public Media's Assistant News Director, managing the day-to-day operations of the newsroom, editing daily news stories, and managing the organization's internship program. Byrne also hosts Central Florida Public Media's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration, and the weekly news roundup podcast "The Wrap."