NASA’s Orion test flight failed to launch.
The Orion capsule was scheduled to blast off at 7:05am ET and orbit the Earth twice before splashing down off the coast of California, but after two and a half hours of technical problems and weather issues, the mission was postponed until Friday morning.
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 first sign of trouble was a boat in the launch area, which had to be cleared before Orion could lift off. Once that was out of the way, the launch was further delayed by strong winds near the site.
The countdown is on hold due to ground wind exceeding the set limits.— Orion Spacecraft (@NASA_Orion) December 4, 2014
We have another hold due to wind violation. We're waiting to find out when we can resume the #Orion countdown.— Orion Spacecraft (@NASA_Orion) December 4, 2014
The Orion launch had a window of opportunity that lasted between 7:05am and 9:45am ET. With an hour and a half to go, NASA engineers noticed that two valves on the craft’s boosters had failed to close. This delayed the launch time even further, as they had to “cycle” all of the rocket’s valves to make sure they were opening and closing correctly.
As delays continued, space-watchers made jokes to pass the time.
Orion launch still on hold while it downloads an Adobe Flash update.— pourmecoffee (@pourmecoffee) December 4, 2014
My life is in further troubleshooting #Orion— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) December 4, 2014
If #Orion was a presidential candidate, pundits would be yelling at NASA to forget about safety and just launch already.— Nu Wexler (@wexler) December 4, 2014
At 9:35am, the launch director announced, “Recommend we scrub today,” and the mission was officially postponed.
For the many people watching live on social media and via NASA TV, this made for some disappointing viewing. But for a mission with this kind of budget—particularly one that requires the spacecraft to return intact for future launches—this level of caution is understandable. You can tune in at 7am Friday to watch NASA’s next launch attempt.
Photo via NASA