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NASA's planned Orion launch is postponed until tomorrow

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Too much wind, a boat, and valve problems beset the first test of the most ambitious spacecraft since Apollo

Today's anticipated launch of NASA's Orion space capsule at Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station was scrubbed, after a series of cancelled launches. The craft was beset by wind and a malfunctioning valve. Another attempt will be made tomorrow morning.

orion is meant to carry people farther than any mission since ApolloThe first launch time was 7:05AM ET, but a boat in the launch exclusion area delayed it. Then, Orion was ready to blast off at 7:17AM — but the ground winds were too strong. A third attempt was scheduled for 7:55AM, but it too was delayed by wind. Another launch time was scheduled for 8:26, but Orion was held yet again after a fill-and-drain valve on the rocket malfunctioned. A final launch was scheduled for the end of NASA's window, at 9:44, but it was also scrubbed.

Orion is meant to carry people farther than any mission since the end of Apollo; the Space Shuttle, which ferried astronauts to the Hubble Space Telescope or the International Space Station for 30 years until its retirement in 2011, wasn't designed to fly nearly as high. If Orion lives up to its expectations, it could be used to send people to asteroids, the moon, and — with a little luck — Mars. For more design details, this article in Air & Space is excellent reading.