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Orion's Launch Moved to Friday: Weather May Prompt Further Delays

After disruptive conditions and outside factors prompted NASA to delay the launch of the Orion space shuttle Thursday morning, the next chance for the unmanned aircraft to begin its orbit is set for 7:05 a.m. EST Friday, Dec. 5, and weather could interfere with the launch.

NASA delayed the launch four separate times on Thursday morning before being forced to postpone the launch after hitting the 9:44 a.m. window. A boat within range was cause for the initial delay, but winds proved to be an interfering factor later in the morning. At the time of the wind violations, winds were near 5 mph.

The ultimate delay was prompted by malfunctioning equipment.

According to AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Tom Kines, weather could interfere with launch from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station located along the east coast of Florida.

Kines described expected conditions as partly sunny, though there is a chance for brief showers in the area. East to northeast winds between 6 and 12 mph may pose issues for the launch.

"Low clouds could also pose a problem," he said.

If the NASA clears for launch, watch it live here:


Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Orion's test flight on Friday will be unmanned, making two orbits around the Earth to test the launch and high speed re-entry systems, according to NASA.

This next-generation spacecraft is the first since Apollo was designed to take humans into deep space.

"Orion is the exploration spacecraft for NASA, and paired with the Space Launch System, or SLS, rocket it will allow us to explore the solar system," said Mark Geyer, program manager of Orion, which is based at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

NASA says that the peak altitude of the flight is expected to be 3,609 miles, roughly 15 times higher than the space station.

This is still just a fraction of the distance from the Earth to the moon, a distance of nearly 239,000 miles.

In the future, NASA plans to launch Orion with a new heavy-lift rocket that will be capable of sending humans to deep-space destinations, such as Mars.

AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Brian Lada contributed to this story.