Orion test flight delayed due to wind, balky valves

Orion test flight delayed due to wind, balky valves

The historic blast off of Orion, NASA’s much-heralded, next-generation spacecraft, was repeatedly delayed Thursday because of gusty winds, balky valves and a boat that moved too close to the launch site. But as the launch window began to close, NASA officials were still hopeful that the launch would happen Thursday morning in what would be a historic test flight designed to ultimately bring humans to Mars.

The uncrewed spacecraft was to lift off at 7:05 a.m. from Cape Canaveral, Fla., aboard a Delta IV Heavy rocket, en route to a 4.5 hour flight that would take it twice around Earth and to an altitude of 3,600 miles– farther than any spacecraft designed for humans has traveled in more than 40 years.

The launch was delayed after a boat moved in range of the rocket and gusty winds. Then, three minutes before Orion was set to launch, officials aborted the mission again, this time because “fill and drain valves” did not function correctly. The launch window extends to 9:44 a.m.

A NASA official said on the agency’s live web stream that there have been a “number of minor issues” but no “show stoppers.” And that the Orion “stands ready for launch,” as crews wait for the wind to die down.

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