Wind gusts, an issue with valves on the Delta IV Heavy rocket, and an errant cruise ship all contributed to scrub the scheduled maiden test fight of NASA’s Orion spacecraft.
The launch team has tentatively rescheduled a new liftoff time of 7:05 a.m. EST on Friday, December 5 as the opening of a 2-hour, 39 minute window. Launch coverage will begin at 6 a.m. EST tomorrow on NASA TV. However, forecasts call for just 40% chance of acceptable weather conditions on Friday.
The test flight was scheduled from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for a four-and-a-half-hour test flight of an uncrewed Orion spacecraft to Earth orbit. The countdown was halted twice when wind gusts exceeded limits. The countdown was also delayed when a boat entered restricted waters off the coast near the Launchpad.
Then, during a third launch attempt an issue with propellant valves on the Delta 4 Heavy’s first stage could not be resolved before the launch window closed.
The planned two-orbit Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1) flight around Earth will lift the Orion spacecraft and it’s attached second stage to an orbital altitude of 3,600 miles, about 15 times higher than the International Space Station (ISS) – and farther than any human spacecraft has journeyed in 40 years. It will test several key systems on Orion, including electronics, the heat shield and parachutes.
Universe Today’s Ken Kremer is on hand in Florida and will provide continuing coverage of the test flight. You can also follow NASA’s Orion Blog for updates.