December 4, 2014 – The first flight test of Lockheed Martin built Orion, NASA’s next-generation spacecraft capable of sending astronauts on future missions to an asteroid and the journey to Mars, now is scheduled to launch Friday, Dec. 5 at 7:05 a.m. EST, atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. NASA Television coverage will begin at 6 a.m. There is a two-hour, 39-minute window for the launch.
A Thursday launch attempt was delayed twice because of ground winds, and then was scrubbed due to valve issues that could not be remedied before the launch window closed. Several valves are used to fill and drain the first stage of the rocket with propellant prior to liftoff. The hydrogen valves appear to have become too cold to operate nominally. This is an issue that has been seen on a prior launch and new procedures may need to be addressed.
NASA TV commentary of the flight will continue through splashdown, approximately 4.5 hours later in the Pacific Ocean about 600 miles southwest of San Diego. A post-flight test news conference will be held Friday approximately two hours after splashdown.
During its trip, designated Exploration Flight Test-1, Orion will orbit Earth twice and travel to a distance of 3,600 miles into space. The flight is designed to test many of the most vital elements for human spaceflight and will provide critical data needed to improve Orion’s design and reduce risks to future mission crews.
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