NASA sets date for Ares maiden flight

NASA is targeting Tuesday, Oct. 27 for the flight test of the Ares I-X rocket, pending successful testing and data verification. Senior managers made the decision after a meeting Monday at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

The launch date has been confirmed with the Air Force’s Eastern Range. The launch window will extend from 8 am to noon EDT. There is another launch opportunity on Oct. 28. The date will be finalized at a Flight Test Readiness Review scheduled for Oct. 23 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Technicians at Kennedy have completed the stacking, or assembly, of the rocket on a mobile launch platform. This week, Ares I-X team members are conducting a launch countdown simulation and conducting final checks of the rocket’s systems.

The checks will begin with the launch abort system simulator atop the rocket and continue down to its aft skirt. The rocket is targeted to roll out to Kennedy’s Launch Pad 39B on Oct. 19.

The launch will provide NASA with an opportunity to test and prove hardware, facilities and ground operations, while gathering critical data for the Ares I rocket and future launch vehicles.