NASA to attempt second launch after yesterday’s aborted flight
NASA will attempt a second launch of its Orion deep-space capsule later today. This comes after yesterday’s planned flight was aborted due to bad weather conditions, security issues and technical faults with the mission’s Delta IV Heavy rocket.
The American space agency said it would aim for lift-off within a narrow two-hour 44-minute window, opening at 12.05pm GMT.
The maiden four-hour two-orbit flight will take off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex in Florida, and will test many mission-critical systems such as high speed re-entry avionics, parachutes, heat shield and altitude control.
Once outside the Earth’s atmosphere, the cone-shaped capsule will make two orbits around the Earth at an altitude of 5,793 km (3,600 miles).
Today’s mission aims to go higher than any flight since the 1960s and 1970s, when the Apollo space shuttle took men to the moon.
Orion will be catapulted back to Earth with a re-entry velocity of up to 30,000 km/hour (18,600 mph), at a similar speed to a shuttle returning from the moon.
However, weather conditions looked less than ideal this morning. Experts said there was only a 40% chance of them improving, which could overshadow the second launch.
NASA announced that the test flight is the precursor to ambitious plans which ultimately hope to launch humans into deep-space destinations such as Mars, and into asteroid belts.
The new Space Launch System, a rocket more powerful than any ever built, will provide a ride for future missions.