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Ares Rocket Launch Faces More Bad Weather

Bad weather was interfering with NASA's attempt to launch a new, experimental rocket for the second day in a row early Wednesday.

An estimated 154 lightning strikes were reported within a five-mile radius of the launch pad overnight. Launch controllers were retesting the Ares I-X rocket systems to make sure nothing was damaged. The extra work delayed Wednesday morning's liftoff. NASA had until noon to get the rocket flying.

Tuesday's launch attempt was thwarted by clouds and wind. More of the same was expected Wednesday.

"Lightning strikes closer than .6 miles of the pad require specific retest and engineers are proceeding through an incremental power-up procedure to make sure no critical systems were affected. So far, no problems have been found in the electrical systems and the components they power," CBS News space consultant Bill Harwood reports.

For in-depth space coverage, visit the CBS Space Place

"The only other issue of any significance is trouble tightening bolts holding a purge port cover in place on the first stage. Engineers are evaluating if the bolts are tight enough for launch as is," Harwood added.

The Ares I-X is a precursor to the rockets NASA hopes to launch with astronauts to the International Space Station and, ultimately, the moon. The White House may scrap it, however, in favor of other rockets and destinations.

NASA has invested $445 million in the test.

The first-stage booster will be recovered from the ocean for analysis.

For more info:
Constellation Program (NASA)
NASA Home Page

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