Engineers will try again to launch the unmanned spacecraft from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 7:05 a.m. EST Friday, and the launch window will stay open until 9:45 a.m. NASA also has Saturday available at the facility, but only has the resources to attempt a launch one of the two days before having to refuel and recharge batteries, officials said.
Friday's weather looks promising for launch conditions, officials said, and there are no major issues with the Orion capsule.
"The spacecraft looks good, there are no specific issues we're working on with Orion," said Mike Hawes, Orion program manager for Lockheed Martin, which built the capsule.
About three minutes away from liftoff Thursday morning, wind gusts picked up, delaying two launch attempts, said Dan Collins, chief operating officer of United Launch Alliance, which built the rocket paired with Orion. Crews tried a third time after winds died down, but the rocket experienced a malfunction with a fuel valve, possibly becoming "cold and sluggish" during the delay. Engineers rushed to fix the problem, but the launch window closed before they could.
A cargo ship previously thought to have caused a delay by entering dangerously close to restricted waters was later cleared and determined to be in a safe location, NASA said.
Launch organizers seemed undeterred and optimistic that the glitch could be overcome.
"It doesn't change our confidence in the rocket," said Mark Geyer, Orion program manager for NASA. "It was a complex day."
"The team was absolutely on their game listening to everything the rocket was telling us," Collins said. "Ultimately, it told us it wasn't ready to go today. We'll go make sure we have a happy rocket."
At Space View Park in Titusville, onlookers were upset but understanding.
"We are disappointed but it's worth it to do it right," 25-year-old Hannah Marlow of Orlando told the Orlando Sentinel.
Marlow attended the delayed launch with her fiance Fritz Laun and plans to return again Friday for the next attempt.
The Orlando Sentinel contributed to this report.
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