Volume: 07, Issue: 06 10/20/2009 
The Ares I-X rocket has reached Launch Pad 39B.  Image credit: NASA TV
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Other Articles in This Issue:
32 New Exoplanets Found
LCROSS Impacts the Moon
NASA Updates Shuttle Atlantis Target Launch Date, Crew Rehearsal
NASA Space Telescope Discovers Largest Ring around Saturn
Mission Patch Contest Announced
 

Ares I-X Moved to Launch Pad

The Ares I-X test rocket is on Launch Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The 4.2-mile journey out of Kennedy's Vehicle Assembly Building traveling less than 1 mph to the launch pad took approximately seven hours.

The rollout of Ares I-X originally was set for Monday, October 19th. During testing on October 14th, engineers detected a nitrogen gas leak in an accumulator located in the aft skirt of the rocket. The accumulator, which absorbs hydraulic pressure spikes as the system operates, was replaced and successfully retested.

On Friday, managers will meet at Kennedy for a Flight Test Readiness Review to thoroughly discuss whether the flight test is ready to proceed and set an official launch date. Currently, Ares I-X is targeted to launch October 27th between 8 a.m. - 12 p.m. EDT.

This test flight of the Ares I-X rocket will provide NASA an early opportunity to test and prove hardware, models, facilities and ground operations associated with the Ares I launch vehicle.

The Ares I rocket is being designed to carry astronauts to space in the Orion crew exploration vehicle. The Ares I-X test flight also will allow NASA to gather critical data during ascent of the vehicle's integrated stack, which includes the Ares I with a simulated upper stage, Orion and launch abort system. Data collected from more than 700 sensors throughout the rocket will begin to confirm the vehicle as a whole is safe and stable in flight before astronauts begin traveling into orbit.

"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."

During the week before launch, technicians at the pad will perform a variety of electrical and mechanical checks to ready the vehicle for flight, including hydraulic power unit hot fire, steering tests and internal power verifications using flight batteries.

United Space Alliance of Houston is NASA's prime contractor for the ground processing of the Ares I-X rocket.

"Processing for the Ares I-X test flight in parallel with space shuttle operations has been a true challenge involving people and hardware from across the country, and we're very proud of what the team has accomplished," said Mark Nappi, vice president of Launch and Recovery Systems for United Space Alliance.

ATK Space Systems of Magna, Utah, is NASA's prime contractor for the first stage of the rocket.

"The NASA and contractor teamwork displayed over the last four years has been the catalyst that brought us to this important milestone today," said Bob Herman, ATK's vice president of Exploration Systems for Kennedy Space Center Operations. "As the Ares I first stage provider, we are looking forward to receiving invaluable data during the flight test."

Ares I-X is an un-crewed, sub-orbital development test in a modified Ares I configuration. Ares I-X is the first developmental flight test of the Constellation Program, which includes the Ares I and V rockets, Orion and the Altair lunar lander. With this first flight test, NASA will be one step closer to its exploration goals - to return to the moon for more ambitious exploration of the lunar surface and to travel to Mars and destinations beyond.

For information about Ares I-X, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/aresIX

    
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