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I have been following the Orion flight test this morning hoping that the engineers could finally manage to launch the spacecraft on time and I was disappointed when the scrubbing was communicated.

This question then came to my mind: why such a short mission has a launch window at all? There were no rendezvous scheduled, nor a trip to another celestial body, just two orbits and a splashdown.

What am I missing here?

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The desired splashdown location in the Pacific constrains the timing and location of the high-apogee burn; they probably want that splashdown to be in daylight, and the orbit is inclined, not equatorial, so changing the timing would mean changing the inclination significantly, which I would guess has a lot of effects on the mission plan.

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  • $\begingroup$ I don't understand why battery power should be a constraint here: I'd say instead that a solar powered apparatus might need to receive solar power and some constraints might derive from this, I'm quite sure that something that orbits though gets sunlight for half the orbit, period. $\endgroup$ – Vladimir Cravero Dec 4 '14 at 18:58
  • $\begingroup$ My thinking was muddy -- I was assuming that launching late could mean waiting an extra few orbits before reentry to reach the desired landing site, but they'll either wait a day or not at all. Removed that bit. $\endgroup$ – Russell Borogove Dec 4 '14 at 19:07
  • $\begingroup$ Couldn't the splashdown-location issue be dealt with by manoeuvring the spacecraft during reentry? $\endgroup$ – Sean Jul 3 at 23:47

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