Orion ‘Mars ship’: Nasa says rocket is fuelled and ready to go ahead of afternoon launch

The test mission is set to blast off into space at noon today

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The Independent Online

The Orion capsule that could one day carry humans onto an asteroid or to Mars is fuelled and ready to go ahead of its launch at noon today, Nasa has said.

Engineers this morning filled the rocket, at Cape Canaveral in Florida, ahead of liftoff at 7.05am local time, or 12.05pm GMT.

Preparations from the launch, as well as the liftoff itself, are being streamed by NASA and can be watched live on The Independent. Nasa will be giving live updates on the process during the four hour mission, and the flight will be covered live on The Independent.

In-depth: What are the aims of the Orion mission?
Nasa gives go ahead to launch

Nasa gave the go-ahead for the launch on Tuesday morning, saying that there was a 60 per cent chance that conditions including the weather would be right and that the mission would go ahead.

After launch, it will fly 3,600 miles into space before heading back, about four hours after launch.

The test is an important first step for both commercial space exploration and manned missions to Mars, both of which are likely to be influenced by whether the flight succeeds.