Final Piece Of NASA's Next-Generation Rocket Heads To Launch Site

March 13, 2009
Ares I-X rocket
Artist concept of Ares I-X rocket. Image Credit: NASA

( -- The final pieces of the Ares I-X flight test rocket left the Alliant Tech Systems manufacturing facility in Promontory, Utah, Thursday and began a 2,917-mile journey to its launch site at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The first segments are the last shipment of Ares I-X major hardware elements. The hardware will arrive in Florida later this month and undergo final processing and preparations before being stacked with the other portions of the .

"This shipment means great things for the Ares I-X mission," said Ares I-X Deputy Mission Manager, Steve Davis. "It's wonderful to see the next generation of American spaceflight continue to take shape. The excitement is really building now as we start stacking the pieces and preparing for later this year."

The Ares I-X will be the first for the Ares I rocket; the agency's next-generation spacecraft and crew system. The flight will provide NASA an early opportunity to test and prove hardware, analysis models, facilities and ground operations associated with Ares I.

The Ares I-X rocket is a combination of existing and simulator hardware that will resemble the Ares I rocket in size, shape and weight. It will provide valuable data to guide the final design of the Ares I. The test flight also will bring NASA one step closer to its goals of returning to the moon, and traveling to destinations beyond. The Ares I-X launch is scheduled later in 2009.

The Ares I-X first stage uses a four-segment motor, capable of generating 3.3 million pounds of thrust. The motor provides the primary propulsion for the vehicle from liftoff to stage separation 120 seconds into the flight. The motor segments were taken from the existing space shuttle solid inventory for the flight test. The booster used for the Ares I-X flight test is being modified to meet Ares needs by adding new forward structures and a fifth segment simulator to better replicate the size and shape of the Ares I crew launch vehicle.

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the first stage project for the Ares I-X mission, located at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Provided by JPL/NASA (news : web)

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not rated yet Mar 13, 2009
I still think the ares program was the wrong choice. It was only chosen because it was Griffin's pet project. It would have been career suicide to strongly oppose it, so the dissenters gave up and kept quiet.
not rated yet Mar 17, 2009
Couldn't agree more. It's not like we had to re-invent the wheel. We could have made upgrades to the Saturn rockets and done just as well for probably 1/2-3/4 the cost.

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