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High winds delay launch of Pluto-bound NASA craft

first_imgCAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Gusty winds on Tuesday forced NASA to postpone the launch of the New Horizons spacecraft, which was to begin its nearly decade-long journey to Pluto. The unmanned craft is now scheduled to lift off at Kennedy Space Center between 1:16 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. today. Winds reached 40 mph Tuesday afternoon, exceeding the 38-mph limit that officials had set for launch, said NASA spokesman Dwayne Brown. “Hopefully, Mother Nature will cooperate (today).” The weather is expected to worsen, however, with forecasts calling for strong winds and isolated thunderstorms. NASA officials estimated a 30 percent chance that today’s launch will be delayed by weather. The probability of a weather delay for Tuesday’s planned launch was estimated at 20 percent. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGift Box shows no rust in San Antonio Stakes win at Santa Anita During the final countdown Tuesday, after a series of “go” calls, the flight control engineer called “no-go” at T minus 2 minutes, 24 seconds. “I’m not disappointed,” said Boulder, Colo., scientist Alan Stern, the mission’s leader and principal investigator. “The point is to get to Pluto, not to launch on schedule.” Many of the more than 1,500 invited guests were disappointed, however. “I thought, ‘Oh, phooey,’ because I have to leave,” said Carolyn Porco, an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder who is flying home today. “But obviously the most important thing is that it just gets off.” The mission has a launch window that extends through Feb. 14. If it launches before Feb. 3, New Horizons would get a 9,000-mph speed boost from flying past Jupiter, reaching a top speed of 45,000 mph. That would cut the craft’s travel time by at least 3 years, allowing it to reach Pluto by July 2015. If the craft launches between Feb. 3 and Feb. 14, it would miss the gravity assist. The earliest it could reach Pluto would be 2019. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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