NASA's Orion Launch Missed Its Window, Delayed Until Tomorrow
NASA's Orion spacecraft was originally set to launch this morning, but due to a passing ship and a faulty valve, the launched has been delayed until tomorrow morning.
Orion, a cutting-edge spacecraft that is thought to be the next step on NASA's "road to Mars," had a two-and-a-half hour window to launch this morning, from 7:05 am to 9:44 am. A planned 7:05 launch was scrapped when a boat passed through the launch zone, so the mission was delayed until 7:17 and 7:55, both of which were canceled within minutes of the launch due to strong winds. The final launch time was planned for 8:26 am, but Orion just couldn't catch a break, as a valve failed to close correctly and postponed the launch once again. NASA provided live updates via their Twitter as they attempted to launch the spacecraft just under the wire:
Specialists raced to fix the problem before the relatively short window closed:
Launch team making last attempt to troubleshoot valve issue this morning before #Orion launch window closes at 9:44am ET.— NASA (@NASA) December 4, 2014
And then, just four minutes later:
Scrub. Today's planned launch of #Orion is postponed due to valve issue. Our next possible launch window opens at 7:05am ET Friday— NASA (@NASA) December 4, 2014
The rocket is unmanned for this flight, which will make sure the basic systems are operational, but Orion will eventually be able to take four astronauts on a 21-day mission, which is expected to occur in 2021. NASA insists that Orion is "designed to go farther than humans have ever traveled," and that it is destined to carry the first astronauts to walk on Mars.
During this mission, Orion will reach a peak altitude of 3,600 miles, which is fifteen times higher than the ISS, and will orbit the Earth twice. The flight will test whether all of Orion's systems, including the parachutes and heat shields, are operational, in preparation for its debut launch on the Space Launch System, which is scheduled to occur in November 2018.
The window for Orion to launch will open again at the same time tomorrow, 7:05 am ET. You can watch live coverage of the launch here: