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UPDATE: Weather delays Orion move to launch pad

Orion poised to move to the launch pad. Photo courtesy of NASA.
Orion poised to move to the launch pad. Photo courtesy of NASA.

NASA will try again Tuesday to move its new deep space capsule Orion to a launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Weather delayed the move 24 hours.

Orion is NASA's first new spacecraft in a generation, designed to fly astronauts beyond the moon and eventually to Mars. Its first unmanned test mission is scheduled for December.

Orion program manager Mark Geyer says the mission will test the spacecraft's most crucial systems.

"We're going to test really I would say the riskest parts of the mission in ascent and entry, things like the fairing separations, heat shield, parachutes, entry, navigation and guidance, those kind of things."

Engineers also will examine how radiation in deep space affects the spacecraft.

Orion will remain at the pad until launch day, undergoing testing and preparations.

The one-day mission will take Orion 3,600 miles into space, 15 times farther than the International Space Station. It'll orbit the Earth twice, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.

The spacecraft's first manned mission is scheduled for 2021.

Mike Hawes of Lockheed Martin says the mission represents a new path for NASA.

"When we have those footprints on Mars I certainly will believe, and I hope many of you will believe, that this was that first step that got us started on that path."

Amy Green covered the environment for WMFE until 2023. Her work included the 2020 podcast DRAINED.