October 20, 2009

Ares I-X Rocket Arrives At Launch Pad

NASA's Ares I-X rocket arrived at Launch Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Tuesday morning.

The rocket arrived at the launch pad at 9:17 a.m. after leaving the Kennedy Vehicle Assembly Building at 1:39 a.m. It traveled at less than 1 mph for the 4.2-mile journey.

The 327-foot-tall experimental rocket's arrival marks the first time in more than a quarter century that a new vehicle has sat upon the launch pad, which has been modified for the rocket.

"It's a tall rocket; it's been over three decades since anyone has built a rocket this tall. That was the Saturn V," Trent Smith, the vehicle processing engineer for the Ares 1-X, told BBC News.

"We have over 700 sensors on this rocket; and the whole point of Ares 1-X is to understand how does a rocket this shape, this weight, this tall actually fly," he said.

The rocket is set to launch at 8 a.m. on October 27 for an unmanned test flight that will allow NASA to test hardware, models, facilities and ground operations. The launch will cost $350 million.

"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."

The rocket is intended to one-day carry astronauts to the moon in the Orion crew vehicle.


Image 1: Artist concept of Ares I-X and Ares I rockets. Image credit: NASA

Image 2: As the sun rises over Launch Pad 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the 327-foot-tall Ares I-X rocket, secured to a mobile launcher platform, prepares to climb the five percent grade of the crawlerway to the top of the pad. Photo credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller


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