NASA's Orion Launch Scrubbed After Series of Setbacks

Wind, technical issues delay unmanned launch.

ByABC News
December 4, 2014, 9:43 AM

— -- It seems bad luck does come in threes.

Launch day for NASA's Orion spacecraft was delayed by a trio of problems, including wind gusts, a stray boat in the launch zone and technical issues that prompted the space agency to call it a day.

NASA announced the launch was scrubbed for today, just before the lift off window closed at 9:44 am ET.

The first setback came when NASA said a boat drifted into the launch zone before Orion was scheduled to launch on a Delta IV rocket today at 7:04 am ET.

A new launch time 13 minutes later was again pushed back due to winds.

Less than an hour later, NASA reported that the new launch time of 8:26 am ET would not hold up after a fuel and drain valve did not close. NASA said it was cycling the valves open on three core boosters to see if opening and closing them again would solve the issue.

The Orion space capsule is seen as crucial step toward the dream on one day sending a manned mission to Mars. Once it does lift off, NASA will be watching closely to see how Orion holds up to a series of stress tests in space.

Orion seats four astronauts -- one more than Apollo. While the design may be the similar, Orion is equipped with technology that is light-years ahead of its Moon-shot mission predecessor.

While in orbit, Orion will circle the Earth twice at an altitude of 3,600 miles and will make re-entry at 20,000 mph with temperatures hitting 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Four and a half hours after lift off, the spacecraft is expected to splashdown 600 miles off the coast of San Diego in the Pacific Ocean.

If this test succeeds, the next step will be another launch to circle the Moon in 2018, then a manned mission to the Moon in 2020.