Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ares 1-X Rocket Test Flight

The 327 foot Ares 1-X rocket on Launchpad 39B at Kennedy Space Center right before dawn. The three towers around it are for lightning protection. We were about 9 miles away from the launchpad across the Indian River.

We arrived shortly before dawn to see the launch of the test flight of the Ares 1-X rocket. It is a prototype of the vehicle that will take the astronauts back to the moon. The Ares series of vehicles would also replace the space shuttles and play a part in resupplying the International Space Station.

A lot of people already had their cameras set up for the 8am launch. The amount of upper level cloud cover caused the first delay. The launch window was open until 12 noon. It was like a tailgate party and we had a good time with the people we met there.

Jim was on the phone with his Mom, who was watching live coverage on NASA-TV. She was one of our sources for updates. "Mom says" became an inside joke after a while. After all, if Mom says the rocket's going to launch in 20 minutes it really is, isn't it? People would ask, "What does Mom say now?" We also had people in the crowd with radios, and got updates from Twitter feeds on our cell phones. The time was getting closer and closer to the cut off time of 12 noon.

The countdown resumed at 11:26am, and then 4 minutes later at 11:30am...liftoff!

It was incredible to see the rocket being lifted into to the sky by a long flame.

The rocket moved so fast that we didn't hear the sound until it was way up in the sky. It started it's roll to the east when we heard the roar.

Here's a photo of our launch party with the contrail from launch on the right side. From left to right: John, Barry, Gloria, Jim, Connie, Alan, Christine.

More photos of the Ares 1-X test flight.

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