December 14, 2009
With more than 23 times the power output of the Hoover Dam, the Constellation Program's Ares I-X test rocket zooms off Launch Complex 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The rocket produces 2.96 million pounds of thrust at liftoff and reaches a speed of 100 mph in eight seconds. Liftoff of the 6-minute flight test was at 11:30 a.m. EDT Oct. 28. This was the first launch from Kennedy's pads of a vehicle other than the space shuttle since the Apollo Program's Saturn rockets were retired. The parts used to make the Ares I-X booster flew on 30 different shuttle missions ranging from STS-29 in 1989 to STS-106 in 2000. The data returned from more than 700 sensors throughout the rocket will be used to refine the design of future launch vehicles and bring NASA one step closer to reaching its exploration goals.
This NASA photo is public domain.