August 17, 2009

Ares I-X test rocket ready for flight test

NASA says it has assembled the Ares I-X rocket for an October test flight, marking the first time in more than 25 years a new space vehicle has been assembled.

The stacking of the Ares I-X rocket, its simulated crew module and launch abort system was finished Thursday in the space agency's Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, completing the 327-foot launch vehicle and providing the first look at the finished rocket's distinctive shape.

The Ares I-X flight test is targeted for Oct. 31.

More than three years of hard work with the NASA and contractor team has brought us to this historic moment, Bob Ess, Ares I-X mission manager, said. This flight test is a critical step in continuing our design process for the Ares vehicle and the first flight for the Constellation Program.

The Ares I-X is wired with more than 700 sensors to gather data during the 2 1/2-minute flight test, providing NASA an early opportunity to test and prove hardware, facilities and ground operations associated with the Ares I crew launch vehicle.