It was space vs boat at Orion launch. The boat won

'Mars hopeful' craft only has 2 hours left to blast off

Mars wannabe spacecraft Orion got stuck on the ground at Cape Canaveral after a number of delays to its scheduled launch.

The first test flight of NASA’s new human-carrying space shuttle has been beset by problems, including a boat that wandered into the red zone, a “second stage propellant conditioning issue”, and finally, high ground winds.

However, the craft still has another two hours left in its launch window to attempt a blast-off today, Thursday.

The team at NASA has moved the ship back onto external power so it can save its batteries for flight, while the boffins work out a new launch time and hope for ground winds to subside.

The latest time Orion can leave the ground is 2.44pm GMT. If it can’t attempt lift-off before then, NASA will have to go back to the drawing board to find another launch date.

Orion is the heir apparent to NASA’s dormant manned space exploration programme and the agency hopes to see it eventually fly to the Moon, Mars and asteroids.

On this first trip, the ship is due to test major systems like its huge heat-shield and eight-parachute landing, along with how well it withstands radiation and micro-meteoroid shrapnel out past the lower Van Allen belt. ®

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