Orion launch scrubbed

Posted by Michael Bakich
on Thursday, December 04, 2014

The Orion spacecraft sits atop the Delta Heavy IV launch vehicle at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Unfortunately, a technical issue caused NASA to postpone the launch. // NASA
I just received this report from Contributing Editor Mike Reynolds, who was at the press site on Pad 39 of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Thursday, December 4th. T-minus … and holding!

Today’s launch attempt of Orion via the Delta IV launch vehicle was scrubbed due to a valve issue in the Delta rocket, though from the start it seemed that it was not going to be a day to fly from the moment the launch window opened.

The launch control team worked through several issues, from a boat that wandered into the launch safety zone (how does a boat just “wander” into an off-limits zone?), crosswinds, which violated launch rules, and various booster issues. In the end, engineers could not resolve the fuel valve technical issue.

NASA will discuss the scrub (a NASA term for cancelling a scheduled launch attempt) at noon EST today.

It has been a little over three years and four months since Atlantis landed, ending the space shuttle era. The Cape, as well as the area surrounding the Kennedy Space Center, seems as if new life had been breathed into them. I was amazed at the positive comments from locals and those I got at restaurants, hotels, and even gas stations. And employees at the Kennedy Space Center — both government and private contractors — are cautiously optimistic that Orion will bring the spirit of exploration not only back to the area and NASA, but back to the nation as a whole.

And it was obvious at the Kennedy Space Center, where work is ongoing on several projects that are Orion-related. The new launch tower for Orion and SLS is under construction, a monument to the future. Even the blow-ups of Orion and the Orion-SLS stack, like huge kids blow-up toys, seem to signal a new era in manned space exploration for the United States.

So, we all can understand the level of caution with Orion, especially with the recent issues with Antares and SpaceShip One. Orion will fly when the time is right — and someone moves their boat!

Learn more about the Orion test flight

Learn more about the Space Launch System (SLS)

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