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

This startup wants to copy you into an embryo for organ harvesting

With plans to create realistic synthetic embryos, grown in jars, Renewal Bio is on a journey to the horizon of science and ethics.

VR is as good as psychedelics at helping people reach transcendence

On key metrics, a VR experience elicited a response indistinguishable from subjects who took medium doses of LSD or magic mushrooms.

This nanoparticle could be the key to a universal covid vaccine

Ending the covid pandemic might well require a vaccine that protects against any new strains. Researchers may have found a strategy that will work.

Stay connected

Illustration 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.