August 27, 2009

NASA Cancels Ares Rocket Test

NASA was forced to cancel its first test firing of its Ares moon rocket on Thursday, according to officials.

The test was supposed to take place at a Utah facility owned by Alliant Techsystems Inc (ATK), which developed the rocket that is intended to be the next engine for the space agency's Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle.

According to the Associated Press, Alliant canceled the two-minute test firing with just 20 seconds remaining in the countdown sequence.

Operators said a power unit that drives hydraulic tilt controls for the rocket's nozzle failed prior to the test firing.

Following the retirement of the space agency's shuttle fleet, Orion will be used for the next generation of NASA exploration that will send astronauts back to the moon and on future visits to Mars.

Five years ago President George W. Bush started the $108 billion program to return to the moon by 2020. But current President Barack Obama's special independent panel concluded that the plan wouldn't work on the existing budget schedule because it's likely to cost at least an extra $30 billion through 2020.

NASA has yet to announce a revised date for the Ares test.

"Alliant and NASA officials were scrambling to provide a full explanation for the cancellation," the AP said.


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