Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ares I-X Rolled Out for Test Flight - It's About Time!

"NASA Unveils New Rocket For Historic Test Flight"
Space.com (October 20, 2009)

"For the first time in nearly 30 years, a brand new NASA rocket rolled out to a seaside launching pad in Florida early Tuesday to prepare for a launch test debut.

"The rocket is Ares I-X — a suborbital prototype for the Ares I rocket NASA plans to use to launch its shuttle successor, the Orion spacecraft. Currently the world's tallest booster, the Ares I-X is slated to blast off Oct. 27 at 8 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT) on a short demonstration flight.

" 'The Ares I-X is going to fly straight up and straight out,' said NASA commentator George Diller as the 327-foot (100-meter) tall rocket began moving toward Launch Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 'During that time we'll be testing the stage separation to determine how well the first stage separation motors perform, as well as the performance of the booster itself, namely the parachutes and other apparatus that will deploy.'..."

Quite a bit of the Ares I-X, including the Orion crew capsule, will be mockup parts for this flight: pieces the same size as the actual components, with the same mass - but not functional.

I'm rather excited about this development. Although I'd have liked to see a sort of 'next-generation' shuttle, it looks like the Orion capsule and launch vehicle is a practical way to get people and cargo to orbit and back. And considering how old the shuttle fleet is, it's about time a replacement was getting rolled out.

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