Arex I-X Launches Successfully

Article written: 28 Oct , 2009
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
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After waiting out weather and triboelectrification issues, the Arex I-X rocket thundered and crackled away from the launch pad at 11:30 am EDT with a successful (and beautiful) launch. The vehicle ran through the entire 2-minute test flight with no obvious problems or issues, ending with the stages separating and parachuting down to the Atlantic Ocean. This marks the first time a new vehicle has launched from Kennedy Space Center since the first space shuttle launch in 1981. “The only thing we were waiting for was weather,” said a jubilant test flight director Ed Mango to his team after the flight, “and that means all of you did fricking fantastic!”

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“I can’t tell you how unbelievable that was,” said former astronaut Bob Cabana, who is now the director of Kennedy Space Center. “I got tears in my eyes. That was one of the most beautiful rocket launches I’ves seen. Given that three years ago this program was a blank piece of paper, it shows what we can do with common goal and common vision, I just couldn’t be more pleased.”

Constellation program manager Jeff Hanley said, “How impressive is that? You have all accomplished a great step forward for Constellation.”

Ares I-X during the flight. Credit: NASA TV

Ares I-X during the flight. Credit: NASA TV


Despite ongoing problems with the clouds and possible rain, the launch team worked closely with weather personnel to find a break in the clouds.

At the T+2 minute point in the flight, the upper stage simulator and first stage separated approximately 130,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean. The unpowered simulator splashed down in the ocean, and the first stage was fired for a controlled ocean landing with parachutes so that it could be recovered.

Data collected from over 700 sensors on board the Ares I-X will help with the development of future missions as well as the design and modeling of future vehicles.

More images and video will be posted as they become available.



13 Responses

  1. Adarzh says

    I don’t understand the reason behind so much publicity, hoax and posts relating this Ares thing in all the news, blogs. Is there anything revolutionary in it other than a mere launch vehicle.

  2. Spoodle58 says

    A lot of people where worried that it would shake itself to bits due to its slender shape.

    But your correct its basically a slim saturn V
    redesigned from scratch.

    Its what NASA should have done in the 1970’s instead of the shuttle. Not to be too harsh on that either, the shuttle had its moments.

    The main reason that people are so on about this is probably cause its something to enjoy in these dark times.

  3. Spoodle58 says

    It was a great launch i must say though.

  4. Silenus says

    So, if I understand well, they have a working first stage now.
    What’s the next step? Do the same test with an operational second (or upper) stage? Anybody knows the planning?

    It looks like still a long way to the moon…

  5. DrFlimmer says

    The 5 year gap must come from somewhere 😉

    Btw: The Saturn V relied on crygenic propellants, unlike the Ares I, which depends on solid stuff.

  6. Manu says

    It was strange how the second stage pivoted back at separation, and how the screen at NasaTV went blank for a second or two. I thought failure at that moment, maybe somebody else did… Only during the replays was the whole sequence shown.

  7. Hon. Salacious B. Crumb says

    Impressed!! The moon look just a little closer! 😮

  8. Hon. Salacious B. Crumb says

    Impressed!! The moon looks just a little closer 😮

  9. Jorge says

    Was it in my eyes, or was there really an inclination right after takeoff that didn’t look all that planned?

  10. Astrofiend says

    Nice, but I must say, there is something so much less romantic about solid propellant motors than cryogenic liquid motors.

    Having said that, they are probably a hell of a lot safer and more reliable (after challenger, that is).

  11. Jon Hanford says

    Did anyone notice in the Ares I-X launch reruns the almost instantaneous pitch of the of the vehicle as it cleared the tower? Definitely a sure sign a a short Atlantic suborbital trajectory for this first large scale test. Congrats to all the engineers, Techs, and scientists involved with this project. Off to a good start with this launch configuration.

  12. Jorge- They discussed that at the press conference, and Jon mentioned it in his comment. That pitch was correct and what they expected, and not much different than what the space shuttle does, but the Ares I-X is just so much taller it just looked a little odd.

  13. Maxwell says

    If I understand the program correctly, next up would have been the Ares I-Y. Which is a five segment motor, dummy J2-X engine, flight ready upper stage tank and boiler plate capsule with functioning abort tower for a test of the escape system.

    The gap is a product of budget cuts.
    The less money NASA has, the sooner the shuttle has to be retired, and the longer it takes to do anything new.
    So in theory if we got Apollo era funding the gap would practically vanish… as thats unlikely to happen, we can hope for the +3 Billion and a 5 to 7 year gap.

    Worse case scenario we get no money and have to use smaller vehicles. Which means going back to space with something closer to Soyuz than the shuttle.

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