Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

A View from Brittany Sauser

NASA Aborts Critical Rocket Test

The first full-scale test of the booster for NASA’s Ares I rocket was called off because of a power failure.

  • August 27, 2009

Today NASA was supposed to conduct the first full-scale test of the motor for the first stage of its future space rocket, Ares I. The test, at NASA partner Alliant Techsystems, was in Utah at 3:00 P.M. EST and was intended to last two minutes. The goal was to obtain data on thrust, roll control, acoustics, and vibrations to aid engineers in designing Ares I. But the test was scrubbed 20 seconds before ignition of the 154-foot motor, which was anchored to the ground horizontally. The problem: failure of a power unit that drives hydraulic tilt controls for the rocket’s nozzle, according to a local report. The static firing test of the motor has not yet been rescheduled.

The five-segment solid rocket motor for Ares I. Credit: NASA

While nothing appears to be wrong with the rocket itself, the failure is a setback. The Ares rocket is part of NASA’s Constellation Program–a plan for new manned flights to the moon and possibly to Mars and beyond, the first of which is scheduled to launch in 2015. A test flight rocket, Ares I-X, will take place later this year.

The failure also comes at a crucial time for NASA. The independent panel charged with reviewing the future of U.S. human spaceflight is preparing to present its recommendations to the Obama administration in less than a week. One option is to simply abandon the program, which has been over budget and behind schedule.

The new motor is a 12-foot-wide solid rocket booster. Its design is derived from the space shuttle, which uses two four-segment solid rocket boosters, and it will burn the same specially formulated propellant. The added fifth segment will allow Ares I to lift more weight and reach a higher altitude.

AI is here.
Own what happens next at EmTech Digital 2019.

Register now
More from Intelligent Machines

Artificial intelligence and robots are transforming how we work and live.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    Print + Digital Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

    Technology Review PDF magazine archive, including articles, images, and covers dating back to 1899

    10% Discount to MIT Technology Review events and MIT Press

    Ad-free website experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning print magazine, unlimited online access plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Print Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

  • Insider Online Only {! insider.prices.online !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Unlimited online access including articles and video, plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.