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Ares 1-X Test Launch

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posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 10:47 AM
The test flight of the Ares 1-X rocket (the test vehicle for the Ares 1) launched today (October 28). The launch itself looked successful, but there is still plenty of data to go through before it is known exactly how the rocket performed.

The test flight of this Ares 1-X lasted only 2 minutes, as planned, before the bottom half parachuted into the ocean (while the top half crashed into the ocean, as planned), but NASA gathered a lot of data during those 2 minutes. There were over 700 sensors on the test vehicle collecting data during the flight.

The Ares 1 is the new crew launch vehicle that is to replace the space shuttle as the NASA's method for launching humans into space. The shuttle is being retired after next year. NASA is also designing the Ares V heavy-lift vehicle, which will replace the shuttle as the method for launching heavy payloads. The Ares V will not be ready for testing for several years.

The Ares 1 and Ares V are the main vehicles in NASA's early plans to return to the Moon and for manned missions to Mars.

Ares 1
Ares V

[edit on 10/28/2009 by Soylent Green Is People]

posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 10:59 AM
Thanks for the heads up, I was looking forward to this test.
Hope is all works well. Von Braun once said that solid fuel rockets are too dangerous for human transportation, hopefully we'll be proven wrong.


posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 11:32 AM
reply to post by Soylent Green Is People

This is fascinating.

Certainly, in today's political environment, the process of building (ultimately) a new delivery system to the Moon is going to be taking a lot longer than it did in the 1960s.

I see the media focusing more on the Earth lift components, and less on what's under development for the manned vehicles. To include the Lunar Landers....

After re-watching the ingenuity and cleverness that went into the LM during Apollo....I fervently hope that some of that same innovation still exists, today. Otherwise, we will have the equivalent of a "camel designed by committee"....

There was a really funny exchange between Ricky Gervais and his sidekick Karl Pilkington on his podcast the other day.

This is paraphrasing, but you get the idea...

Ricky: "One of my favorites is, 'A camel is a horse designed by committee.'"

Stephen: "Carl's already wondering who's on that committee."

Karl: "I was just thinking why would you request the hump bit, cause that's just gonna get in the way, innit?"

Ricky: "Ok, Karl. I'll give you an animal, and you tell me where it has gone wrong. The Octopus."

Karl: "It should have some bones. I never understood why it would like to get in a jar anyway."

Ricky: "A Giraffe."

Karl: "Noah should have seen some of the animals coming in and said, 'Hold on. Just saw one like you.' and then throw it out."

Not sure if I captured the humor there, but, regardless, I like the premise of the initial statement. Design-by-committee is bound to produce suboptimal results.

Let's hope it doesn't go this way.....

posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 11:59 AM

Originally posted by buddhasystem
...Von Braun once said that solid fuel rockets are too dangerous for human transportation, hopefully we'll be proven wrong.


The problem with solid-fueled rockets (unlike liquid-fueled) is once they're lit, they're lit -- There's no "turning them off" or throttling back.

If you ever noticed with the shuttle, they start the shuttle's main engines (which are liquid-fueled) about 6 seconds before launch and before the solid-fuel boosters are lit. This is to ensure that the liquid-fueled main engines are working properly before they commit to launch by lighting the solid-fueled boosters (remember, once the solids are lit, the shuttle has to go). If the main engines are found to not be working properly during those 6 seconds prior to launch, they can be shut down and the launch attempted aborted. This happened with STS 41-D in 1984, STS 51 in 1993, STS 55 in 1993, and STS 68 in 1994.

Here's a video of the STS-68 launchpad abort at 2 seconds before launch: YouTube

Even though on Ares-1 the lighting of the solid-fueled engines marks a "commit" point for launch, manned Ares-1 rockets (with an Orion on top) will have an emergency launch abort rocket system attached to it the top of the manned capsule. The emergency system can pull the capsule to safety away from the rest of the rocket if something goes wrong with the solid-fueled motor.

Werner Von Braun was a great rocket scientist and he deserves the accolades he has received, but he is known to have been wrong before. He originally hated the idea of using a separate lunar lander with Apollo. He preferred a "direct" approach with the astronauts launching, cruising, landing on the Moon, and returning to Earth all in the same vehicle. He eventually came around to the separate lunar lander concept after his direct approach was shown to be too difficult and costly with the technology they had at hand.

I suppose one could argue that Von Braun's direct approach would work if they had more time and more money, but we'll never know.

As for Von Braun not liking solid-fueled rockets, perhaps the technology is now better, safer, and more dependable than it was back in his day.

[edit on 10/28/2009 by Soylent Green Is People]

posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 12:00 PM
reply to post by weedwhacker


The new vehicles are needed, and needed desperately. Let the bright young yabbers design the damned things. Politicians and others, stay the hell out of the way. Or we'll never leave the nest.

posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 12:33 PM

The post-launch press conference is on NASA TV or right now (1:30 PM U.S. EDT)

posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 12:43 PM
reply to post by seagull

Indeed they are needed --

And don't forget, these vehicles (the Ares-I and Ares-V) are not only for going to the Moon -- they will probably also be the primary launch vehicles used for a future manned Mars mission.

Preliminary launch plans for a manned mission to Mars is as follows:

  1. The Ares V Cargo Launch Vehicle, or "CaLV" will be used to put pieces of a Mars cruise vehicle into Earth orbit -- probably using several launches to launch several pieces for assembly in orbit (like the space station was assembled).
  2. The Ares I Crew Launch Vehicle, or "CLV" (the subject of today's test flight) will be used to launch a crew capsule -- perhaps the Orion -- into Earth orbit to dock with the assembled Mars Cruise Vehicle.
  3. Once in Earth orbit, the astronauts will transfer to the Mars Cruise Vehicle for their trip to Mars.

Of course these plans are just preliminary, but if the Ares program moves forward, there is no reason to think that the Ares I and Ares V will not be an important part of manned exploration of space for the next few decades.

[edit on 10/28/2009 by Soylent Green Is People]

posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 12:49 PM
On the one hand, a solid fueled rocket is terrible because it can't be shut off, and on the other hand they're so reliable it's almost idiot-proof. Even with STS-51L, had the external tank not been mounted to the side, had it just been "the stick" that it is now, an O-ring leak would not necessarily have been deadly. In fact it probably wouldn't even have caused an abort. Even the ultra-reliable shuttle SSMEs have failed before and resulted in one abort (to orbit). This virtually eliminates the scary possibility of a multiple engine failure close to the pad (when they are the most dangerous) and simultaneously re-opens the possibility of the launch escape tower. If the second stage doesn't light, fine, at least you can abort safely with plenty of altitude as breathing room.

posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 01:14 PM
reply to post by ngchunter

Good points...though may be lost on many, here.

I know of a certain prolific-posting member who likes to keep bringing up the falacy that "NASA Forgot How to Go to the Moon"

Which, really, amounts to nothing other than the fact that the engineers who designed the intricate pumping mechanisms and valves for the Saturn V main engines were uniquely innovative....

BUT, by switching to the tried-and-true Solid Fuel concept, then all that (pumps and valves) go out the design office window....

As pictured, BTW, it seemed even the Ares I test launch vehicle showed an escape system (even if dummied) similar to that used on least, it looked like that to me.

Looks like the CREW safety is paramount, of course, during the launch sequence. Scenarios and emergency procedures will always be in place, in design.

posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 01:56 PM
You'd think we would be farther along with rocket technology than this. This rocket is like upgrading from a V4 to a V6.

posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 02:07 PM
Found some images thought I would share.


posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 02:16 PM
Awesome images, I'm loving the new sonic barrier effect. By the way, is your avatar from a mallincam or stellacam recording? Looks great. M81?

posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 02:22 PM
reply to post by OpenYourHead

Yeah....hear you there.

Unfortunately, unless we breakthrough to what is alleged to be known by certain ET entities....we are stuck with brute force reaction rocket technology....for now....

There is a HUGE problem looming for longer-duration manned missions...IF all we have is 'zero-g'....we will need, preferably, some sort of artificial technology. It will be technical, whether "old-school" centrifugal, or some high-tech exotic "star trek" needs are there. We need brains, people!

posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 02:56 PM

Originally posted by OpenYourHead
You'd think we would be farther along with rocket technology than this. This rocket is like upgrading from a V4 to a V6.

As Weedwhacker said, unless someone creates some sort of antigravity device or a space elevator, the best way of getting off the ground is by brute force, and the best brute force is a rocket...

...And, by the way, rockets have come a long way in 50 years. It's just not easy to notice the advances in launch system technology because even the most advanced rockets are still just "rockets".

A rocket is a pretty basic device, so avionics, thrust efficiency, and safety are just about the only things to improve upon -- and most people watching a rocket launch don't notice improvements in avionics, thrust efficiency, and safety.

However, once we get a payload off of the Earth (which is the hard part) and into space, the methods of propulsion for the "cruise engines" used while in space has in fcat advanced by leaps and bounds in the past few decades. While early space-cruise motors relied on chemical fuels (which got used up very quickly), there are new ion thruster motors in use today that existed only in theory a few decades ago.

With ion propulsion, a spacecraft is not limited by using up almost all of its fuel in the first part of the flight (such as the case with chemical engines). Rather, ion propulsion much more efficiently uses its fuel.

With an ion propulsion system, a single spacecraft could make multiple and drastic course changes to conceivably visit multiple targets. With the old chemical engines, the course you originally set is basically the only course you can take, except for minor course adjustments.

[edit on 10/28/2009 by Soylent Green Is People]

posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 08:09 PM
So, does anyone have a good idea or estimate on how long it will be before Obama decides what he wants to do? Now that the Augustine comission has turned in it's final report and Ares has had it's first test (sort of) I guess the only thing left is to make a decission. I've been waiting for almost a year to see what Obama will do with NASA.

Anyone got an idea or even a guess on when the anouncement will be made? After all he could decide to cancel the project all together.

posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 10:43 PM
reply to post by fieryjaguarpaw

This is just my personal opinion, but I think a successful Ares 1-X test (if this does turn out to be successful after all the data is digested) will help out the Ares program specifically and Constellation Program in general.

During the post-test press conference today, NASA was very candid about the Augustine Commission Report and about Ares I chances to be operational (with the Orion Capsule) by 2015. They said that the Augustine Commission assessment that the Ares-I/Orion would not be operational until 2016 is a fair assessment, but only if one wants to say when it will definitely be operational. NASA still contends that it has a good chance to hit the 2015 date.

By the way, during that press briefing, NASA also reiterated their assertion that they would have had the Ares I operational by 2013 IF they got the funding they asked for -- but funding kept getting cut, and the schedule kept sliding.

In short, even the Augustine Commission would agree that the reason Ares-I operational date keeps sliding is not due to technical failures, but rather due to budgetary constraints.

The problem with President Obama scrapping the Ares I is that they would then need to begin designing another rocket to replace the shuttle as a crew launch vehicle, and that would put the manned program back another 5 years or so -- and cause the Ares-I work done so far to be for nothing.

The proposed program now consists of two totally separate launch vehicles for launching crews (the Ares I) and for launching Cargo (the Ares V). This separation of crew and cargo is the safest method as proposed by the Columbia Accident Review Board.

They strongly urged NASA to do this, and NASA listened when it came time to plan their Moon missions. Under the current plan, the Ares I will lift only the crew capsule, while the Ares V lifts the lunar lander and cruise stage

Other systems being considered by the Augustine Commission in lieu of the Ares I would NOT separate Crew and Cargo. A system that uses a single heavy-lift design (called the "Ares V Lite", because it is derived from the Ares V -- only smaller) that will lift the Orion Capsule and half of the lunar equipment in one launch, and the other half of the lunar exploration equipment in a second launch.

Both NASA's current Moon plans and the "Ares V Lite" system will require 2 launches. The difference is NASA plans to use two different types of launch vehicles (Ares I and Ares V), while the "Ares Light" system will require two launches of the same type of vehicle (Ares V "Lite").

The pros and cons are this:

Pros for NASA's plan -- (1) Crews and cargo are kept separate, as per the Columbia Investigation Report. (2) The Ares V can lift much heavier payloads than the Ares V "Lite". Having a workhorse that can lift very heavy payloads would be a plus to space exploration in general -- not just manned exploration. (3) Plus, NASA would be able to launch an Orion Capsule to orbit (to visit the space station, for example) without needing to use a unnecessarily large Ares V "Lite".

Cons of NASA's plan -- Requires two separate designs for launch Vehicles (Ares I and Ares V).

Pros for Ares V "Lite" -- One vehicle design (Ares V "Lite").

Cons for Ares V "Lite" -- (1) Crews and cargo are not kept separate. (2) The maximum payload weight is less that the full-blown Ares V.

There are other ideas out there, but the Augustine Commission concentrated mainly on these two.

Like I said, I think if today's Ares 1-X test is deemed successful, then I think that helps keep the Ares I and constellation program on track as NASA originally intended -- although budget constraints may slow the timeline once again.

Obviously NASAs current plan is the "better" plan of the two (if money didn't matter), but in the real world money does matter, and the "Ares V Lite" plan is the less costly of the two.

They reason that it's taking so long to go back to the Moon has nothing to do with unattainable technologies and everything to do with not having a large enough budget. If NASA had the budget they had back in the 1960s (correcting for inflation), the Constellation Program would have been ready to go to the Moon within the next couple of years.

posted on Oct, 29 2009 @ 04:00 PM
Did I hear correct on Spaceflight Now that the Ares V would not be into service until 2029? I know NASA has its pride to think about but what about modifying a Delta heavy lift rocket or even the Ariane 5 which Europe is planning to replace in the next decade.

Overall though, good launch but the large dent in the SRB that’s been found might be a bit worrying.

posted on Oct, 29 2009 @ 05:08 PM

Originally posted by The Director
Did I hear correct on Spaceflight Now that the Ares V would not be into service until 2029? I know NASA has its pride to think about but what about modifying a Delta heavy lift rocket or even the Ariane 5 which Europe is planning to replace in the next decade.

I'm still hearing that the Ares Vmay be operational by 2020 (test flights in 2018). That is, if funding can remain in place (or more funding is allocated). As I said before, the sliding of the Constellation Program schedule is not because of insurmountably technical hurdles, but because of the lack of funding to work through those inevitable hurdles.

Supposedly, NASA says the 2020 date for a manned mission to the Moon (using Ares I and Ares V) is still attainable.

The "Official" NASA line is that they want to do a manned mission to Mars around 2030 (again, using the Ares I and Ares V).

The Augustine Commission doesn't have a problem with the design logic behind Ares I and Ares V -- they reported that the the designs for these launch vehicles and their intended uses within the Constellation program are very sound. The problem they have with them is the costs. They claim that the budget for NASA will be much tighter than NASA intended it to be when they started Constellation (i.e., it seems the government wants to cut some NASA funding).

The bottom line is that NASA actually did their homework and came up with very good design specs for Ares I and Ares V -- two launch vehicles that should suit NASA's needs for 30 or more years. However, now that NASA actually came up with a good forward thinking plan, the government says there is not enough money to implement that plan, so a compromise is in order.

I have a feeling that this will end up like Apollo -- they will do just enough to get to Mars in the early 2030s, but they will have compromised so much that they will not have the launch architecture to do much more than than walk around on the surface and say "we made it -- now lets go home".

Overall though, good launch but the large dent in the SRB that’s been found might be a bit worrying.

I wonder if the possibility that the upper stage may have made contact with the first stage after separation may have caused the dent. If so, on "real" Ares I operational flights, the upper stages will be powered as it separates, meaning it will be pulled away from the lower stage (and the contact would not occur).

If it wasn't dented from contact with the upper stage, then perhaps the parachutes did not deploy properly, and the parachute system may need to be modified.

I realize a test flight is best when all goes according to plan, but -- realistically -- this is the reason they do test flights.

[edit on 10/29/2009 by Soylent Green Is People]

posted on Oct, 29 2009 @ 10:30 PM
I'm not sure if Ares was ever the best way to go, but I'm even more concerned with changing course every four years. If I'm not mistaken each of the last 3 Presidents have had a plan to go back to the Moon. If we had just stuck with one of them we would already be there. Instead we develope an idea for a few years and then somone comes in and decides to take everything in a different direction. I belive this is the main reason why it will be half a century (and maybe more) between the last and our next flight to the Moon.

I also hope Obama doesn't wait another year before he quits dithering and decides whether he wants to destroy NASA or not. The longer he waits the more money and time is thrown in the toilet.

posted on Oct, 31 2009 @ 09:38 AM
Well... at least it did not explode on launch.

NASA: Test Rocket Damage Caused by Parachute Failure

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