NASA puts new Ares I-X rocket on launch pad for test flight

October 20, 2009,
The 327-foot-tall Ares I-X test rocket moves slowly to launch pad 39B from the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2009. The Ares 1-X is scheduled to launch on Oct. 27.(AP Photo/John Raoux)

( -- For the first time in more than a quarter century, a new vehicle is sitting at Launch Pad 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Ares I-X flight test vehicle arrived at the pad atop of a giant crawler-transporter at approximately 7:45 a.m. EDT Tuesday.

The crawler-transporter left Kennedy's Vehicle Assembly Building at 1:39 a.m., traveling less than 1 mph during the 4.2-mile journey. The rocket was secured on the launch pad at 9:17 a.m.

The vehicle is scheduled to launch at 8 a.m. on Oct. 27. This test flight of the Ares I-X rocket will provide NASA an early opportunity to test and prove hardware, models, facilities and ground operations associated with the Ares I launch vehicle.

The Ares I rocket is being designed to carry astronauts to space in the Orion crew exploration vehicle. The Ares I-X test flight also will allow NASA to gather critical data during ascent of the vehicle's integrated stack, which includes the Ares I with a simulated upper stage, Orion and launch abort system. Data collected from more than 700 sensors throughout the rocket will begin to confirm the vehicle as a whole is safe and stable in flight before astronauts begin traveling into orbit.

"With the arrival of Ares I-X at the pad, this milestone demonstrates NASA's world-class ability to conceptually design, build and process a new launch vehicle in just under four years," said Bob Ess, mission manager for Ares I-X at Kennedy. "Nearly 2,000 NASA and contractor employees located throughout the United States worked together in an unprecedented fashion, resulting in the new vehicle ready for flight."

During the week before launch, technicians at the pad will perform a variety of electrical and mechanical checks to ready the vehicle for flight, including hydraulic power unit hot fire, steering tests and internal power verifications using flight batteries.

United Space Alliance of Houston is NASA's prime contractor for the ground processing of the Ares I-X rocket.

"Processing for the Ares I-X test flight in parallel with space shuttle operations has been a true challenge involving people and hardware from across the country, and we're very proud of what the team has accomplished," said Mark Nappi, vice president of Launch and Recovery Systems for United Space Alliance.

ATK Space Systems of Magna, Utah, is NASA's prime contractor for the first stage of the rocket.

"The NASA and contractor teamwork displayed over the last four years has been the catalyst that brought us to this important milestone today," said Bob Herman, ATK's vice president of Exploration Systems for Kennedy Space Center Operations. "As the Ares I first stage provider, we are looking forward to receiving invaluable data during the flight test."

At the Flight Test Readiness Review on Oct. 23, mission managers will finalize the launch date and provide the team with a final "go" or "no go" for launch.

Ares I-X is an un-crewed, sub-orbital development test in a modified Ares I configuration. Ares I-X is the first developmental flight test of the Constellation Program, which includes the Ares I and V rockets, Orion and the Altair lunar lander.

Provided by NASA

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1.7 / 5 (7) Oct 20, 2009
Seems a terrible thing to say, but I must almost hope that this launch fails, and forces NASA to confront the decades of stupidity that left us with eg last-launch completion of Space Station etc etc...

Be ironic if the Shuttle is only remembered for dull-thud O-rings and the Hubble Servicing missions...

Fly Skylon, folks...
4 / 5 (1) Oct 20, 2009
Hubble will be remembered as Concorde is, as a peak of their particular fields of technology.

Their absence should be considered as a backward step, and as such we should be doing everything we can to move forward again ... this time as a united planet, not as competing nations.
4 / 5 (5) Oct 20, 2009
I on the other hand never hope for failure when it comes to space programs. Changes in direction perhaps, but never failure. If we don't get off of this rock "soon", we won't.
not rated yet Oct 20, 2009
I have to agree with Steve on this one.
not rated yet Oct 20, 2009
Changes in direction perhaps

That's always what I hope for if something seems unacceptable. I was just wondering, when will they find new fuel or ways to get into space and lower the costs of space travel? I mean it's been how long since we got people back into space? We need to find a cheaper, more efficient way, at least by the end of this decade.
4 / 5 (1) Oct 20, 2009
Changes in direction perhaps

That's always what I hope for if something seems unacceptable. I was just wondering, when will they find new fuel or ways to get into space and lower the costs of space travel? I mean it's been how long since we got people back into space? We need to find a cheaper, more efficient way, at least by the end of this decade.

Not as long as their is a government bureaucracy involved.

They were told to go back to the moon. They were just there 37 years ago. But, collectively, they have forgotten how. So, instead of using tested and known Manned Rated systems (Saturn V), an inproved version of which could loft 50 tons to LEO or 25 tons to LO, they are going to go with a 5 segment disintegrating totem pole that has never flown and never been rated for Manned Space Flight. Add to this outright foolishness the plan calls for a second booster system for "heavy" loads. Idiots.
5 / 5 (1) Oct 20, 2009
When does this thing blow up? I mean go up?
5 / 5 (1) Oct 21, 2009
A great and importent moment in The Constallation Program ! I hope that the costs of the hole project are not crossing the line of the provided budget. But i think its inevitable. The technology itself (go the Moon and set up a base) is not the main problem. The only problem is money!
5 / 5 (1) Oct 21, 2009
I am very disapointed in the space program. In the 60s we were able to place a man on the moon, now we can barely get to low earth orbit, the russians have a better manned vehicles to reach orbit.


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