Weather Delays NASA's Test Launch

By Roy Mark  |  Posted 2009-10-27

Very few things went right for NASA Oct. 27 as the space agency attempted to launch the Ares I-X flight test vehicle, the proposed space flight vehicle scheduled to replace the space shuttle fleet. First, foul weather caused a delay in the original 8 a.m. launch and then as the weather opened a small launch window, a cargo ship sailed into the launch area, forcing another delay.

The bad weather quickly closed in again, and NASA finally scratched the test launch. Liftoff of the Ares I-X is now is targeted for Oct. 28 at 8 a.m., the beginning of a 4-hour launch window.

"We had some opportunities, but just couldn't get there," Launch Test Director Jeff Spaulding said. "Weather didn't cooperate."

The Ares I-X is currently scheduled to become NASA's primary launch vehicle after the space shuttle is retired at the end of next year. The rocket is designed to launch the Orion spacecrafts into space for low-orbit flights to the ISS (International Space Station) and, eventually, the moon.

The Oct. 28 launch is scheduled to last approximately 2 minutes as it arches toward space but falls short of reaching orbit. The test launch involves an actual solid-rocket first stage with a mock second stage and dummy capsule to approximate the actual weight and size of an actual Ares launch.

The flight test will provide NASA with an early opportunity to test and prove flight characteristics, hardware, facilities and ground operations associated with the Ares I. During the launch, more than 700 sensors will be on board, feeding back detailed measurements of the rocket's path and performance. Cameras on the ground and aboard planes monitoring the launch will provide NASA with a detailed trajectory analysis.

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