Welcome to Launch Week for the Orion Flight Test! Meteorologists issued a forecast this morning calling for a 60 percent chance of acceptable launch conditions Thursday morning for the liftoff of the Orion spacecraft atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket.
The concern is an expected pattern that could see low clouds and sporadic showers move in from the Atlantic later this week, possibly violating launch criteria designed to prevent the rocket from flying through precipitation. The conditions could also kick up winds too high for a safe liftoff, the forecasters said. Orion will have a 2-hour, 39-minute launch window Thursday. Forecasters are also watching conditions on the West Coast where U.S. Navy ships will gather to retrieve Orion from the Pacific following its 4.5-hour flight. Expected conditions will be favorable according to predictions with no precipitation expected Thursday.
At Space Launch Complex 37, technicians and engineers are finishing closeouts on the Orion/Delta IV Heavy stack and completed work inside the Orion crew module to get everything situated for space. No one will ride aboard Orion, but the spacecraft is carrying numerous sensors to measure conditions throughout the mission, including radiation and temperatures inside the crew module as it reaches 3,600 miles above Earth and then plunges through the atmosphere before opening its chutes and splashing down.