By Andrew Nusca
Posting in Design
For the first time in 25 years, a new vehicle has left NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center, and its payload -- the Arex I-X rocket -- promises to return humans to space.
For the first time in 25 years, a new vehicle has left NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center, and its cargo -- the Arex I-X rocket -- promises to return humans to space.
The assembled Ares I-X was mounted aboard NASA's Crawler-Transporter and arrived at Launch Pad 39B.
The rocket's launch will test the viability of the 100-meter high Ares I, the agency's largest and most powerful rocket since the Saturn V. That rocket, which powered Apollo missions in the late 1960s and early 1970s, was 10 meters taller than Ares.
The Ares I-X imitates the characteristics of the Ares I. It's comprised of a four-segment solid rocket motor, simulated fifth segment, newly designed forward assembly and a simulated upper stage, crew module and launch abort system.
NASA and Alliant Techsystems have spent the last three years collaborating on hardware and software design, integration, testing, ground processing and launch operations.
The recovery system that will be used for the Ares I-X first stage is the newly developed Ares I parachute system. The guidance and navigation algorithms are the same as those that will be used for Ares I, and the forward assembly that attaches the first stage to the upper stage is prototype hardware developed for Ares I. The solid rocket motor cases used for Ares I-X have collectively flown on 30 previous shuttle missions and will continue to be reused for the Ares program.
ATK says the rocket is equipped with more than 700 sensors that will be used to collect data on loads, environments, roll characteristics, vehicle guidance, navigation and control, first stage separation and first stage re-entry in realistic flight environments.
If proven successful, the rocket has the capability of carrying a space shuttle or other manned spacecraft into outer space. But NASA itself must make its case to the current U.S. administration.
The Ares I-X rocket is expected to launch on Oct. 27 (8 a.m. to 12 p.m. EDT).
Oct 20, 2009
Thanks for your comment. Believe it or not, "payload" is also a synonym of "cargo," and is thus correct in the first paragraph. But given the topic of the post, I can see how it can be misleading. I've changed it to clear up any confusion. Thanks for reading!
Overbloated and money wasting? You mean the US military? That would be far more accurate. Wasting trillions of dollars every year on useless wars that drive up the deficit. NASA has an annual budge of $17 billion for the past several years (which means in real dollars it shrinks every year due to inflation) and still manages to stay within budget. NASA's current problems are because Bush demanded we return to the Moon by 2020 and then cut NASA's budget by more than 50%. That's incredibly stupid. NASA, even with its problems, is one of the most efficient programs in the world public or private. It has over a 98% success rate and has generated trillions in the technology, economies of scale and economies of scope it has produced for the American economy for decades. President Obama needs to do like the Augustine Commission suggests and give NASA more funding. Stop these stupid hyper-expensive wars and spend money on something other than bullets to kill foreigners and welfare bailouts for corporate America.
NASA has failed to learn from the Rutan flight and that embarassing fact should say it all, overblouted ,beuaracratic, money wasting, unimaginative ,lost in the sub burbs NASA. Enough said.
Andrew, Thanks for alerting us to this imminent launch. Sounds cool. Don't mean to gang up on you with the earlier nit-pickers, but the term payload signifies what the launch vehicle carries into orbit, such as a manned capsule. It's the "load" that somebody is "paying" for to get launched. Kelly Carter
I agree with notsane. I think that someone is confusing the two Ares launch vehicles. The Ares I-X that is being tested is the smaller of the two launchers. The Ares V launcher is the heavy lift rocket and is a whole different rocket design. Wasn't the sandcrawler the transport that was used by the Jawas in the Star Wars movie?
Make your own opinion about the Ares I-X after reading the summary report: http://www.nasa.gov/offices/hsf/related_documents/summary_report.html
Andrew, Do some fact checking here ... "NASA?s sandcrawler" is actually the Crawler-Transporter "... the agency?s largest and most powerful rocket since the Saturn V." Actually, the Space Shuttle system uses two of these solid rocket motors and three hydrogen/oxygen engines. This vehicle uses a single solid rocket motor of the same type. Ares I-X has nowhere near the thrust of the Space Shuttle system. "If proven successful, the rocket has the capability of carrying a space shuttle or other manned spacecraft into outer space." Ares is only intended to carry the Orion manned capsule into space. The Space Shuttle will be retired shorty, and this vehicle isn't nearly powerful enough to loft the orbiter.