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Thursday, August 11, 2005

New US Mars probe delayed again
Mars Reconaissance Orbiter atop its Atlas V rocket, Nasa/KSC
Bad weather had already delayed launch preparations
The US space agency has delayed the launch of its new Mars probe for the second day running.

The $500m Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) was due to launch on Thursday, but controllers called a halt just a few minutes before blast-off.

It will arrive in orbit around Mars in March to look at the history of water on the planet and hunt for landing sites for future manned missions.

MRO can transmit 10 times more data each minute than previous Mars probes.

During loading of the hydrogen fuel tank, sensors showed a "dry" reading when they should have been reading "wet". A similar problem forced Nasa to scrub the launch of the space shuttle Discovery from Cape Canaveral on 13 July.

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