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Favorable weather forecast for Orion launch

Orion poised for flight. Photo courtesy NASA

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Thursday’s Orion launch is a go from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The weather is looking good for the first unmanned test mission of NASA’s new deep space capsule, with liftoff scheduled for 7:05 a.m.

The spacecraft will orbit the Earth twice during its four-and-a-half-hour mission. NASA’s Mike Sarafin says some of the riskiest moments will come toward the end.

“When we get to the high Earth orbit portion we’ll pass through the Van Allen radiation belts on the way up as well as on the way back, where we could see some effects on our flight computers and various avionics. And then we’ll get a great shot of Mother Earth from 3,600 miles up.”

Engineers will examine how radiation affects the spacecraft’s computers. The flight also will test Orion’s heat shield and parachutes.

“And then Orion begins its trial by fire. It’ll decelerate from 20,000 miles an hour at an altitude of 75 miles to zero velocity at splashdown in just 11 short minutes,” Sarafin says.

Orion is NASA’s first new spacecraft in a generation. NASA says Thursday’s launch is like the early missions of the Apollo and shuttle programs.


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Amy Green

About Amy Green

Reporter and Producer

Amy Green covers the environment for 90.7 News. She is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a regular contributor for NPR, PEOPLE, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor and many other top news organizations. Her in-progress book on the Everglades is under contract with Johns ... Read Full Bio »