Science

Ares I-X: The Next Generation of American Space Flight
Ares I is the first launch vehicle in NASA's Constellation Program, which is intended to transport astronauts and cargo to the Space Station, the moon and beyond. 

The Ares Program

At 11:30 a.m. one morning, the Ares 1-X experimental rocket — the next-generation of America's space flight program — blasted off flawlessly through clear skies at Cape Canaveral. The launch shows how challenging rocket science really is: The seeming blue skies over the pad in Florida hid a variety of challenges, including static-filled clouds and high-altitude winds. Launching a rocket through these conditions isn't like a plane taking off from a landing strip: It's more like shooting a rubberband through a keyhole from across a parking lot.  

NASA

Testing Orion's Altitude Control Motor

NASA, Alliant Techsystems (ATK) and Lockheed Martin performed a ground test of a full-scale attitude control motor for the launch abort system of the Orion crew exploration vehicle. The motor operates to keep the crew module on a controlled flight path in the event it needs to jettison and steer away from the Ares I launch vehicle in an emergency, and then it reorients the module for parachute deployment and landing. Together, the eight-proportional valves can exert up to 7,000 pounds of steering force to the vehicle in any direction upon command from the crew module. 

ATK

Testing Orion's Altitude Control Motor

The motor operates to keep the crew module on a controlled flight path in the event it needs to jettison and steer away from the Ares I launch vehicle in an emergency, and then it reorients the module for parachute deployment and landing. Together, the eight-proportional valves can exert up to 7,000 pounds of steering force to the vehicle in any direction upon command from the crew module. 

ATK

Prototype Ares 1 Thrusters

The Ares I rocket, currently in development, will consist of a single solid rocket motor first stage with a single nozzle -- a large, bell-shaped structure at the aft end of the rocket where the burning fuel escapes and provides the thrust, or power, to propel the rocket off the launch pad. The first-stage nozzle will provide the pitch and yaw control, working in tandem with the roll control thrusters. Here, the Ares I first prototype thruster, which was tested at Aerojet in Sacramento, California.

Aerojet

Ares Prototype Thruster

The Ares I rocket, currently in development, will consist of a single solid rocket motor first stage with a single nozzle -- a large, bell-shaped structure at the aft end of the rocket where the burning fuel escapes and provides the thrust, or power, to propel the rocket off the launch pad. The first-stage nozzle will provide the pitch and yaw control, working in tandem with the roll control thrusters. Here, the Ares I first prototype thruster, which was tested at Aerojet in Sacramento, California.

Aerojet

Ares_Launch4

At 11:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, the Ares 1-X experimental rocket -- the next-generation of America's space flight program -- blasted off flawlessly through clear skies at Cape Canaveral.

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The Ares 1-X experimental rocket blasts off.

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The Ares 1-X experimental rocket entered blue skies over the launch pad at Cape Canaveral.

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The Ares 1-X experimental rocket could eventually take man into space, back to the moon. In an actual moon launch, the second stage of the rocket will contain the liquid propellant that carries the capsule further into space, and ultimately into orbit.

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The Ares 1-X experimental rocket begins its journey to the International Space Station.

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The test rocket includes a real solid-rocket first stage, with a mock second stage and dummy Orion crew capsule on top to simulate the intended weight and size of Ares I

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The ship passed Mach 2, achieving speeds of over 1,540 mph.

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Ares I-X is the tallest booster in service or about to fly and stands about 327 feet high — 14 stories taller than NASA's space shuttles.

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The ignition system armed, the water and electrical systems activated, and at 11:30 a.m., the Ares 1-X experimental rocket blasted off through clear skies from NASA's launch pad in Florida.

Sunset

Oct. 26: NASA's Ares I-X rocket is seen on Launch Pad 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 

The flight test of Ares I-X will provide NASA with an early opportunity to test and prove flight characteristics, hardware, facilities and ground operations associated with the Ares I. 

Source: NASA

Aboard Ares

Oct. 27: Aboard NASA's Ares I-X rocket.

Source: NASA

Ares Launchpad

Oct. 27: NASA's Ares I-X rocket on its launchpad.

Source: NASA

Aboard Ares

Oct. 27: Aboard NASA's Ares I-X rocket.

Source: NASA

Ares I-X

Oct. 20: 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 crawler way to the top of the pad. 

The $445 million rocket's rollout comes on the eve of a final report from an independent committee appointed by the White House to review NASA's plans for future human spaceflight.

Not since the April 1981 test flight of NASA's space shuttle Columbia has NASA test launched a new rocket designed to carry astronauts into space. 

Like Columbia and its external tank, the towering Ares I-X rocket is painted in all white and gleamed in the glare of blazing xenon spotlights as it emerged from the 52-story Vehicle Assembly Building. But unlike that first shuttle flight, Ares I-X will be unmanned.

 

NASA/AP

Ares I-X

Oct. 20: The towering 327-foot-tall Ares I-X rocket moves away from the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The skyscraping Ares I-X rocket stands 143 feet  taller than NASA's space shuttles. It is the tallest rocket to emerge from the Vehicle Assembly Building since the Saturn 1B rocket used to launch the Apollo-Soyuz joint mission between NASA and the former Soviet Union in 1975.


NASA/AP

Ares I-X

Oct. 20: 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. The Ares 1-X is scheduled to launch on Oct. 27.

The Ares I-X test rocket has three chances to launch next week, one a day each between Oct. 27 and Oct. 29. NASA initially planned to only have two days to try and fly Ares I-X, but on Monday the agency pushed the launch target for the space shuttle Atlantis to Nov. 16 — a four-day delay — in order to allow the third opportunity.

NASA/AP

Ares I-X

Oct. 14: At NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, an access platform and vent line have been installed on the 255-foot level of Launch Pad 39B to support the Ares I-X rocket.

Below it on the 235-foot level is the vehicle stabilization system. The transfer of the pad from the Space Shuttle Program to the Constellation Program took place May 31.

Other modifications made to the pad include the removal of shuttle unique subsystems, such as the orbiter access arm and a section of the gaseous oxygen vent arm, along with the installation of three 600-foot lightning towers, access platforms and environmental control systems.

NASA

Ares I-X

Sept. 11: In NASA Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building High Bay 3, NASA's Ares I-X rocket undergoes its first power-up.

NASA

Ares I-X

August 14: For the first time in more than a quarter-century, a new space vehicle stands ready in NASA Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building in Florida.

NASA

Ares I-X

July 7: In the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, segments of the Ares I-X first stage are lowered onto the fifth simulator segment for mating, to complete Super Stack 1. The super stack comprises the forward skirt, forward skirt extension, interstages 1 and 2 and the fifth segment simulator.

NASA

Ares I-X

Jan. 22: Ares I-X simulated crew module and launch abort system flight hardware arrives at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

This hardware will complete the nose of the rocket. Nearly 150 sensors on the hardware will measure aerodynamic pressure and temperature at the nose of the rocket and contribute to measurements of vehicle acceleration and angle of attack.

The data will help NASA understand whether the design is safe and stable in flight, a question that must be answered before astronauts begin traveling into orbit and beyond.

NASA

Ares I-X

Jan. 22: Ares I-X simulated crew module and launch abort system flight hardware arrives at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

This hardware will complete the nose of the rocket. Nearly 150 sensors on the hardware will measure aerodynamic pressure and temperature at the nose of the rocket and contribute to measurements of vehicle acceleration and angle of attack.

The data will help NASA understand whether the design is safe and stable in flight, a question that must be answered before astronauts begin traveling into orbit and beyond.

NASA

Ares I-X

Jan. 22: Ares I-X simulated crew module and launch abort system flight hardware, designed and built at NASA Langley, is shipped from Langley to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

This hardware will complete the nose of the rocket. Nearly 150 sensors on the hardware will measure aerodynamic pressure and temperature at the nose of the rocket and contribute to measurements of vehicle acceleration and angle of attack.

The data will help NASA understand whether the design is safe and stable in flight, a question that must be answered before astronauts begin traveling into orbit and beyond.

NASA

Ares I-X

Jan. 22: Ares I-X simulated crew module and launch abort system flight hardware, designed and built at NASA Langley, is shipped from Langley to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This hardware will complete the nose of the rocket. 

Nearly 150 sensors on the hardware will measure aerodynamic pressure and temperature at the nose of the rocket and contribute to measurements of vehicle acceleration and angle of attack. The data will help NASA understand whether the design is safe and stable in flight, a question that must be answered before astronauts begin traveling into orbit and beyond.

NASA

Ares I-X

Jan. 22: The Ares I-X launch abort system (LAS) simulator joins rocket elements from NASA Glenn in the cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center.

NASA

Ares I-X

An artist's concept of the Ares I-X rocket on a launch pad field.

NASA

Ares I-X

Artist concept of an Ares I-X "movie poster."

NASA

Ares I-X

The Ares I-X Flight Test Vehicle will make use of proven space flight hardware.

NASA

Ares I-X

The flight of Ares I-X is designed to simulate the first two minutes of Ares I flight. A broad range of performance data will be relayed to the ground. The solid rocket motor will separate and will be recovered at sea for later inspection. The simulated upper stage and Orion’s crew module and launch abort system will not be recovered.

NASA

Ares I-X: The Next Generation of American Space Flight

Ares I is the first launch vehicle in NASA's Constellation Program, which is intended to transport astronauts and cargo to the Space Station, the moon and beyond. 

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