Skip to Content

Blasts Off for Ares I-X

NASA’s new rocket finally launches, but its long-term future remains in doubt.
October 28, 2009

After a drama-filled wait, NASA’s new rocket finally took to the sky this morning. The rocket, called Ares I-X, launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, its mission to gather critical data for the agency’s next line of moon-bound rockets.

Ares I-X lift off. Credit: NASA

The event marked the first time that a new vehicle has launched from the complex in 30 years and the first test flight since the Apollo missions. The historic flight was spectacular, despite the vehicles uncertain future. A recent report from an independent committee reviewing NASA’s future plans for human exploration did not favor the development of Ares I.

Ares I-X is a prototype rocket composed of real and simulated systems and includes over 700 onboard sensors designed to gather data on vibrations, temperatures, acoustics, loads, pressure, and more.

The maiden flight lasted a mere two minutes, during which time the rocket traveled through the toughest parts of the atmosphere where a launch vehicle is most vulnerable to failures. At an altitude of 45 kilometers the rocket’s two stages separated. The first stage, composed of four solid rocket boosters and a dummy fifth, will be recovered– these boosters used a set of large parachutes to drop into the Atlantic Ocean. The mock second stage broke apart and will not be recovered.

Bob Ess, Ares I-X mission manager told Space.com that the test flight gathered huge amounts of data. “It’s reams and reams of data that will take at best months to go through and understand.”

The teams plan to release periodic reports over the next three months to share the results of the fact-finding test flight. “We’ll come back and tell the agency and the public what we learned,” Ess said.

Credit: NASA

Keep Reading

Most Popular

computation concept
computation concept

How AI is reinventing what computers are

Three key ways artificial intelligence is changing what it means to compute.

still from Embodied Intelligence video
still from Embodied Intelligence video

These weird virtual creatures evolve their bodies to solve problems

They show how intelligence and body plans are closely linked—and could unlock AI for robots.

conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned
conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned

A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click

Deepfake researchers have long feared the day this would arrive.

pig kidney transplant surgery
pig kidney transplant surgery

Surgeons have successfully tested a pig’s kidney in a human patient

The test, in a brain-dead patient, was very short but represents a milestone in the long quest to use animal organs in human transplants.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.