October 29, 2009

NASA's Ares I-X Rocket Launches for Flight Test

NASA's 327-foot (100 m) tall ARes I-X rocket launched at 11:30 a.m. from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday. The powered flight lasted for two minutes, at the end of which, the rocket's first stage, a four-segment solid rocket booster, separated. This and the solid rocket motor were later recovered for inspection and tests (image at right). The upper stage, simulating the Orion module and launch abort system, was not recovered. The rocket was able to reach Mach 4.76 and an altitude of 150,000 feet (45.7 km) just after the conclusion of the powered flight.

The flight was the first test flight for the Ares I program, NASA's next launch system for human spaceflight (concept image at left). The Ares I vehicle will launch the Orion spacecraft and the astronauts on board for future human spaceflight missions, which may even include missions to the Moon and Mars.

The trial performed by the Ares I-X rocket allowed NASA to test necessary equipment, bot on the vehicle and on the ground. Engineers were able to analyze data received from the 700 sensors on the rocket alone. The findings gained from the flight will help further development on the Ares I program, which is expected to begin carrying human payload by around 2015.

A video of the Ares I-X launch is available after the break.

Images and Video: NASA

Astronomy and Space Celebrates International Year of Astronomy 2009.

No comments:

Post a Comment