Spectacular launch for Ares I-X on second try

October 28, 2009, By Thomas Antony

After being delayed many times yesterday and finally scrubbing the launch, NASA today successfully launched the first test flight in their Ares I development program, the Ares I-X from Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

Ares I-X launch

The 327 feet tall rocket, weighing 1.8 million pounds lifted off from Launch complex 39B at 11:30 AM EDT ( 1530 GMT ) after being delayed from its slated launch time of 8 am due to weather. Problem faced by the vehicle included winds and a phenomenon called triboelectrification, which is the build-up of electric charge in the rocket as it passes through clouds. The launch has been declared a success. The dummy upperstage impacted in the ocean and the first stage deployed chutes and is reported to have splashed down safely in the Atlantic. The powered flight lasted 2 minutes and the data collected will help in the development of future missions as well as the design and modelling of future launch vehicles.

Yesterday’s launch attempt ended up being scrubbed after multiple issues kept on delaying it. These included winds, clouds, an instrumentation covering that refused to come off, and even a wayward cargo ship which entered the danger zone above which the Ares I-X was supposed to fly through.

Today also, the liftoff time was pushed ahead multiple times due to clouds. Finally they cleared for a while and the all-clear was given for the launch. Ares I-X lifted off at 11:30 AM EDT from LC 39B at the Kennedy Space Center. This is the first time in 34 years that a non-Shuttle launch vehicle has lifted off from LC-39B. The last one being the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) flight in 1975.

The short mission of Ares I-X is complete and the launch was declared a success. Future tests include  3 tests of the Orion “Launch Abort System” between 2009 and 2010 followed by an Ares I-Y test in 2014 and a test with an actual unmanned Orion space craft, called the Orion 1 in 2015. The Constellation Program has the first crewed mission with the Ares/Orion vehicle planned no later than 2015.

Ares Liftoff

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