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"Frickin' Fantastic" Launch of NASA's Ares I-X Rocket

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the we-can-crash-rockets-into-the-oceans-like-a-champ dept.

NASA 383

coondoggie writes "With a hiss and roar, NASA's Ares I-X rocket blasted into the atmosphere this morning at about 11:33 am EST, taking with it a variety of test equipment and sensors but also high hopes for the future of the US space agency. The short test flight — about 2 minutes — will provide NASA an early opportunity to look at hardware, models, facilities and ground operations associated with the mostly new Ares I launch vehicle. The mission went off without a hitch — 'frickin' fantastic' was how one NASA executive classified it on NASA TV — as the upper stage simulator and first stage separated at approximately 130,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean. The unpowered simulator splashed down in the ocean."

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Uh huh (4, Interesting)

raddan (519638) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899241)

It may really be the case that the launch was 'frickin fantastic', but just having finished reading Red Moon Rising: Sputnik and the Hidden Rivalries that Ignited the Space Age [amazon.com] I don't put a lot of faith in what the media gets wind of with regard to space technology. This stuff is really complicated, and the general public doesn't understand that test flights going awry is not necessarily a bad thing-- so officials often put a nice veneer on the results.

I hope it really was fantastic. A lot of people put a lot of time into this thing. But this thing is so politicized, I'm not holding my breath.

Re:Uh huh (4, Informative)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899269)

AFAIK there were a few minor hitches. One of the cameras on the first stage went out and they had trouble telling if it had splashed down or not. Also, the weather was a hassle (as it should have launched yesterday :P) and there were quite a few lightning strikes last night they'd been worried about.

Re:Uh huh (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29899333)

Yep, pretty much everybody else was quoted as saying:

"Well, very proud and very happy, and we're thrilled"...

Re:Uh huh (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29899383)

Yep, pretty much everybody else was quoted as saying, "Well, very proud and very happy, and we're thrilled"...

...thrilled as a white or Asian woman mounting her first nigger penis.

Incidentally, the Ares-I rocket is modelled after an uncircumsized nigger penis.

NIGGER PENIS.

Re:Uh huh (4, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899385)

I don't put a lot of faith in what the media gets wind of with regard to space technology.

Especially 'media' articles that can't keep tense consistent through five paragraphs. It's not like this guy is editing War and Peace.

It is now safe to get off my lawn.

Re:Uh huh (2, Informative)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899463)

The main article was posted before launch, I think the first paragraph is an addendum put in after the thing launched.

Re:Uh huh (2, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899573)

This is also the NASA that is facing such intense political pressure to justify the continuation of its manned spaceflight program -- and the NASA that Feynman slammed for its veneer-over-veracity attitude surrounding the Challenger disaster.

Maybe they've changed their tune; maybe not.

Re:Uh huh (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29900061)

This is also the NASA that is facing such intense political pressure to justify the continuation of its manned spaceflight program -- and the NASA that Feynman slammed for its veneer-over-veracity attitude surrounding the Challenger disaster.

Unfortunately that idiotic attitude advocated by Feynman-- "never take risks" -- is pervasive through NASA, and avoiding risk-taking is now NASA's standard operating procedure.

Unfortunately, "taking risks" is exactly what NASA should be doing. You cannot progress without taking some risks.

I don't know any way to get around this problem-- any program funded by Congress is going to be incredibly risk-averse, because the one thing that they cannot stand is bad publicity.

Yeager's comment was that when an Air Force test pilot is killed, they name a street at Edwards after him, and go on with the program. When an astronaut dies, they shut down the program for two years and congress holds hearings.

Re:Uh huh (2, Interesting)

garcia (6573) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899609)

I hope it really was fantastic. A lot of people put a lot of time into this thing. But this thing is so politicized, I'm not holding my breath.

Ok, I am not a space nerd but I enjoy rockets and think they're cool to watch. That said, I watched the thing take off and it looked like any other damn rocket that has ever taken off before. Personally, while I'm glad we're retiring the Shuttle, I thought they were a whole lot fucking cooler than this rocket. I really feel like we've regressed to the 1960s.

Awe-inspiring next generation technology... (1)

MindKata (957167) | more than 5 years ago | (#29900077)

"I really feel like we've regressed to the 1960s"

As this launch is partly testing the Solid Rocket Booster stage, you could argue its regressed 750 years into Chinese firework technology!.

Although both would be a little unfair and while its easy to joke at it being basically a high tech firework (at the moment as the other stages are not used yet), the goal of making launches cheaper is very important.

Although to be fair its no where nearly as impressive as even a Shuttle. Its currently not even as impressive as a Saturn V rocket.

I wish we would back a design like Skylon. Now that would be something to get really excited about and it would fill even the general population with a sense of awe to inspire a whole new generation of space exploration. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skylon [wikipedia.org]

Re:Uh huh (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899835)

Well, yes if it went awry and that's not a bad thing, then it was 'frikin fantastic'. Its like crash testing cars. Yes, the car is crashed, but we know know more information about how it will affect the occupants so we can build safer cars.

NASA's priorities....? (4, Funny)

Chapter80 (926879) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899995)

Great. First we bomb the moon, looking for water. [slashdot.org] Then we bomb the Atlantic Ocean. Were we looking for Moons?

But it wasn't as cool (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29899257)

As the guy in the background of the control room that did the sad wee celebratory dance.

Re:But it wasn't as cool (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899297)

The little wiggly dance guy was briliant. You could tell he was happy,

Then they went and snipped off the Controllers Tie as it was his first launch :D

Re:But it wasn't as cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29899371)

The little wiggly dance guy was briliant. You could tell he was happy,

Then they went and snipped off the Controllers Tie as it was his first launch :D

Then he went over to the celebration table and picked up one of the porno mags from the pile, a hypodermic needle shaped like the I-X Rocket, a two foot rubber hose ... well, let's try to keep this PG.

Test flight examination? (2, Interesting)

skgrey (1412883) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899303)

So do they recover all of the parts and go over them closely to look for stress fractures/bad parts/etc?

When they are developing a new rocket, I would certainly hope they do more than a few of these test flights. One successful test flight doesn't thrill me. Multiple test flights utilizing different manufacturing runs of critical parts does.

Re:Test flight examination? (5, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899435)

They only planned to recover the first stage from what I had read. As the NASA official stated it the second stage and mock crew capsule would splash into the ocean like a giant lawn dart and sink to the bottom. I thought the analogy was funny because thanks to the government some large percentage of the population (those under say 25) have no idea what a lawn dart IS.

Re:Test flight examination? (4, Informative)

confused one (671304) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899493)

The upper stage was not a real upper stage. The capsule was a mass simulator. The first stage was only a 4-segment booster with a mass simulator filling in the location of the 5th segment. This flight was about aerodynamics, control authority and a test of the 1st stage recovery parachutes.

Re:Test flight examination? (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899937)

The upper stage was not a real upper stage.

Which, after watching this video, [foxnews.com] makes me wonder how the upper stage is supposed to behave. I noticed it spun off axis after separation. That seems a little strange to me.

Note: Yes, I watched it on Fox News. I've noticed that they actually have decent coverage of NASA.

Re:Test flight examination? (4, Informative)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#29900179)

Yes, it was designed to do that. The NASA-TV footage talked about tumble motors. By causing them to tumble, they get slowed down more by the atmosphere. They won't travel as far downrange and they'll impact the water with less speed. This will make the parts easier to recover.

Re:Test flight examination? (2, Informative)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899547)

They will probably do all that, but the big thing in this flight was to characterize the structural dynamics -frequencies and amount of the flexing of the structure. They did that by doing programmed attitude changes that put forces on the structure, and then use accelerometers and gyros to see how much flex there was, at what frequencies it happens, and how quickly it damped out. Those things are all critical for both stress analysis, and control system design.

        Brett

Re:Test flight examination? (3, Funny)

skgrey (1412883) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899655)

They did that by doing programmed attitude changes that put forces on the structure

I'm sorry ground control, I can't do that.

Re:Test flight examination? (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 5 years ago | (#29900243)

You made me laugh, but attitude is the right word in case you were questioning that seriously.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/attitude [reference.com]

Yes I am aware this could be just a joke, and would expect the woosh. :P

Re:Test flight examination? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29900251)

Moron.

1 [noaa.gov] , 2 [northwestern.edu] , 3 [nasa.gov]

Re:Test flight examination? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#29900253)

They did that by doing programmed attitude changes that put forces on the structure

I'm sorry ground control, I can't do that.

Listen, mister! I don't want to hear any more of your back-talk. You change that attitude or there will be hell to pay!

Re:Test flight examination? (1)

terrymr (316118) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899825)

There are quite a lot of tests planned over the next few years - Today was first stage performance / guidance / separation & recovery testing - the rest of the rocket was just a mock-up.

What's next? (1, Informative)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899325)

If all went well, when's the next launch and what are its goals?

Re:What's next? (4, Informative)

confused one (671304) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899569)

according to wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Constellation_missions [wikipedia.org] the next mission is Ares 1-Y, in 2013, a full first stage, a real second stage, testing high altitude abort.

Re:What's next? (4, Informative)

confused one (671304) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899663)

oops. There are at least 3 test flights before that... a pad abort test in early 2010 and two ascent abort tests using a special booster, one in late 2010 (transonic) and one in late 2011 (max-Q).

Re:What's next? (3, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899717)

... four years between missions? We went from nothing to the Moon in under ten years; it's taking us four years between test launches of something that we've done before?

Re:What's next? (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899769)

Read the Augustine Commission report. There's not enough money to do it any faster than they are.

Re:What's next? (3, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899945)

Oh, yes -- I'm aware of that. That's not a criticism of NASA -- it's a criticism of the United States' screwed-up way of doing things. We spend $600 billion annually on the military, and the Iraq war will cost $2.5 trillion when all is said and done ... and yet we can't give NASA enough support that they can launch more than once every four years?

My nation is pathetic.

Re:What's next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29900111)

yep our nation is pathetic, just look all the useless things they spend the money on like damn statues or new art for some park... if people wanted art there they would put it there with out government money.

Re:What's next? (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 5 years ago | (#29900185)

... four years between missions?

They pick up considerably after that; the first manned mission is the following year.

Re:What's next? (3, Insightful)

Minwee (522556) | more than 5 years ago | (#29900319)

We went from nothing to the Moon in under ten years; it's taking us four years between test launches of something that we've done before?

September 12, 1962. President John F. Kennedy says "We choose to go to the Moon [historyplace.com] ". Nine years later Alan Shepard is playing gold at Fra Mauro.

Fast forward to 2009, when President Barry Obama says "Well, I guess you can go to the Moon, but I can't pay for it. Maybe you could go to an asteroid or play some chess instead." NASA starts looking for loose change in the couch to finance the next test launch.

"So it is not surprising that some would have us stay where we are a little longer to rest, to wait. But this city of Houston, this state of Texas, this country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was conquered by those who moved forward--and so will space."

...just not today, so maybe we should wait and rest and look behind us for a while, until that darn economy fixes itself.

Re:What's next? (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 5 years ago | (#29900263)

according to wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Constellation_missions [wikipedia.org] the next mission is Ares 1-Y, in 2013, a full first stage, a real second stage, testing high altitude abort.

Actually, even prior to the Augustine Committee's report (which suggests using commercial crew instead of the Ares I for most of its options), NASA was already planning to delete the Ares I-Y launch [flightglobal.com] to try to speed up the Ares I development schedule. Also, the table (with NASA-provided figures) in general should be taken with a large grain of salt -- even though NASA's public estimate is that the first Ares I launch will be in 2014, the independent assessment [nasa.gov] by the Augustine Committee estimated that due to the developmental problems NASA has had (some of them inherent to the design), the Ares I likely wouldn't actually be able to launch until 2017-2019.

Re:What's next? (1)

agentgonzo (1026204) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899601)

Ares 1-Y [wikipedia.org] in 2013

Re:What's next? (2, Funny)

Gravitron 5000 (1621683) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899813)

Ares 1-Y [wikipedia.org] in 2013

Ares 1-Y-not?

Re:What's next? (1)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899643)

Ok here is my question...

They are excited about things that other countries like Russia have been doing for decades? Huh? Progress? I will gladly be corrected, but it just seems to me that this is a step backwards in comparison to the stuff that they were doing before...

Re:What's next? (3, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899709)

My grandfather fell out of a tree when he was 45 years old and powdered his hip and femur. He wasn't able to walk for a year after that.

You can imagine he was pretty excited when he took his first halting step after a year of immobility.

This is sort of like the US space program.

Re:What's next? (1)

isaac338 (705434) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899743)

Ok here is my question...

They are excited about things that other countries like Russia have been doing for decades? Huh? Progress? I will gladly be corrected, but it just seems to me that this is a step backwards in comparison to the stuff that they were doing before...

Russia has NOT been launching Atlas rockets for decades.

Re:What's next? (2, Informative)

EvanED (569694) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899757)

The US has been doing it for decades too. But new rocket designs are always at least a bit dicey.

Frickin' Fantastic (4, Funny)

IorDMUX (870522) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899335)

Well then, please allow me to be the first to say:

"Heck yeah!"

'frickin fantastic!' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29899339)

"I guess you can keep your job."

"You betcha!"

Clever (0, Troll)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899341)

"The unpowered simulator splashed down in the ocean.""

And threw "water spray" all over Iran.

economic stupidity (-1, Offtopic)

czarangelus (805501) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899367)

America is a country in which millions of people are homeless and millions of homes sit empty, unoccupied. Where is the government getting the money to waste on the stupid foolishness that is space exploration at a time like this? Space is a frontier for our great-grandchildren to consider, as for us, perhaps we should get to work cleaning the Pacific Garbage Patch or feeding Africa. There is more than enough prosperity, more than enough resources in the world for everyone to have food and shelter and clean water and even 1080p televisions. Instead, we bail out wall st. and give NASA endless resources that produce nothing of value for the average human being. The scientific triumphalism NASA represents is just modern day bread-and-circuses aimed at the Intelligentsia.

Re:economic stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29899439)

If our ancestors in Europe and Asia had felt the way you do, Africa would still be starving and the United States would not exist.

Re:economic stupidity (4, Informative)

vertinox (846076) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899483)

I'd say something scathing and then list all the things the space program has benefited humanity and your daily life with but luckily NASA still has enough time to explain it all nicely without being condescending like I would have been:

http://techtran.msfc.nasa.gov/at_home.html [nasa.gov]

Also... They have a particular section about helping humanity in general with feeding the world:

http://techtran.msfc.nasa.gov/at_home/formankind.html [nasa.gov]

Re:economic stupidity (0, Troll)

czarangelus (805501) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899533)

Where does the money COME FROM? Especially in a burgeoning depression? A government that produces surpluses, though it does so on the backs of the people, at least can justify some absurd pork and waste. On the other hand, a government that has an over ONE TRILLION DOLLAR BUDGET DEFICIT cannot afford to shoot giant phalluses into space. Period. You are out of fucking money. Clean up your own house first, that is my point.

Re:economic stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29899631)

It comes from burning Trolls, now haud yer wheesht

Re:economic stupidity (3, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899667)

Where does the money COME FROM? Especially in a burgeoning depression? A government that produces surpluses, though it does so on the backs of the people, at least can justify some absurd pork and waste.

Not to be a downer, but cutting government spending and raising taxes to balance the budget actually worsened the 1930's Great Depression. Its the worse thing any government could do when there is a shrinkage in credit liquidity. Balanced budgets anti-inflationary measures can only be done when the economy is healthy when there is room to avoid a deflationary death cycle.

Also... NASA's budget is minuscule to some other sectors of spending:

Look here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_Budget [wikipedia.org]

Then look here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_budget_(United_States) [wikipedia.org]

Notice how NASA doesn't even show up on the pie chart of spending categories. Its less than 20 billion compared to the 500 odd so billions for medicare, social security, and defense spending a piece!

Re:economic stupidity (-1, Troll)

czarangelus (805501) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899729)

Why anyone believes such things, I'll never understand. The government is a parasite and I, the taxpayer, am the host. Well, I can't afford its nonsense any longer. I'm driving around an unregistered car because I can't afford to comply with the incoherent burblings coming from the plutocrats in Sacramento. So my patience for NASA and its antics is wearing awfully thin. But you're right towards the end - NASA is, in the long run, not our biggest problem. But we have to start thinking about how much this crap COSTS. $500 million? That's $3-4 taken out of my last paycheck. Just for this project. I can't afford to fund these projects, or the war, or saving GM, or bailing out Wall St. -

Re:economic stupidity (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899853)

You are a parasite, you are driving around on roads that you refuse to pay for.

Re:economic stupidity (1, Offtopic)

czarangelus (805501) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899965)

You are mistaken. I gave the State God Almighty their "registration" money, and then they decided that my car needed $500 in repairs despite the fact its ACTUAL EMISSIONS are well within state guidelines and, in fact, quite exceed them.

Re:economic stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29899967)

Well, no, he's paying his gasoline taxes.

He's probably just talking about not being able to comply with the emissions rules, so his car is probably causing cancer instead.

Re:economic stupidity (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 5 years ago | (#29900081)

Go live on a rock then, without any technology.

The car you are driving (that you "cannot afford to register") will have directly benefited from the space programme's work into composites and computing. The computer you are using to type your ill-informed comments will also owe a lot to the space programme.

Are you suggesting that no one pays any tax? Or that any tax that is collected is used solely to reduce the deficit? If you do that and cut all the spending that benefits humanity (and that creates jobs by the way - you don;t think the guys at NASA work for free do you?).

NASA really is a miniscule, tiny, microscopic drop in the spending bucket of the US, and cutting it out completely severely affects the future benefits we receive as a race.

What exactly do you think scientific research is ultimately for, if not to improve our lives? Do you think we would have the quality of life that we currently do (unregistered car aside) without it? If only private companies do research, what do you think will happen to "large" projects like the LHC, or the moon missions, or the ISS and the benefits from those? What do you think will happen to the cost of technologies that come out of solely private labs?

Re:economic stupidity (1)

czarangelus (805501) | more than 5 years ago | (#29900193)

You are broke! I want Uncharted 2. I don't buy it, because I do not have any more money. Unlike your nation, I don't apply for a Chinese credit card and ring it up because I am broke! I like to live within my means, instead of appealing to the working people of China for yet another loan. America is the deadbeat drunkard cousin of the world who always needs $2000 for this great new business idea he has. When you are broke, when you are twelve trillion dollars in debt, you have to stop spending money! It boggles my mind that the same people who laugh at the SNL skit about DON'T BUY SHIT YOU CAN'T AFFORD turn around and expect their government to do just that unto infinity.

Re:economic stupidity (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899773)

Please go to econ 101. A burgeoning depression is the last time to be reigning in spending.

Re:economic stupidity (2, Funny)

Minwee (522556) | more than 5 years ago | (#29900107)

Please go to econ 101. A burgeoning depression is the last time to be reigning in spending.

It is, however, a wonderful time to rein in your spelling.

Re:economic stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29899561)

You mentioned 'Intelligentsia.' I'm going to go out on a limb and wonder this: You've never been suspected as being a part of that group, have you?

Re:economic stupidity (2, Insightful)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899577)

Spain is a country in which thousands of people are homeless and thousands of others live in squalor. Where is the government getting the money to waste on the stupid foolishness that is world exploration at a time like this? The New World is a frontier for our great-grandchildren to consider, as for us, perhaps we should get to work solving our religious struggles or feeding Africa. There is more than enough prosperity, more than enough resources in the world for everyone to have food and shelter and clean water and even leather shoes. Instead, we fund explorers and give the navy endless resources that will produce nothing of value for the average human being.

Re:economic stupidity (1)

czarangelus (805501) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899621)

You are broke!

Re:economic stupidity (1)

cheap.computer (1036494) | more than 5 years ago | (#29900237)

This is what Buddha said more than 2000 yrs ago, but we as human being learn only from making mistakes.

Re:economic stupidity (1, Insightful)

Chris Tucker (302549) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899673)

So czarangelus sez:

"Wank, wank, wank!"

Such ideological purity!

"The scientific triumphalism NASA represents is just modern day bread-and-circuses aimed at the Intelligentsia."

Sorry, I meant to write, "Such ideological masturbation!"

"Where is the government getting the money to waste on the stupid foolishness that is space exploration at a time like this?"

The general revenues of the United States. That's where. And such a minuscule fraction [nasa.gov] , at that. Barely US$18 billion.

How much American treasure and blood was spent on Chimpy McCokespoon's Excellent "See how big my dick is!" Adventure in Iraq?

Wank all you want, just don't do it where we can see it.

kthnxbai!

Re:economic stupidity (0, Troll)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899713)

Only a total mathematically impaired moron would call the NASA budget "endless resources".

Try fixing the schools first.

Re:economic stupidity (2, Informative)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899843)

As opposed to the $23.7 trillion of taxpayer exposure [bloomberg.com] for all of the bailout programs, which has so far cost us over $12.8 trillion. [bloomberg.com]

Most economists say that all of this money has just postponed the inevitable and done nothing to truly fix the situation.

With $12.8 trillion we could launch one of those rockets every day for over 70 years.

Re:economic stupidity (4, Interesting)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899927)

"endless resources" to NASA. ahahahahahahahahaha. Oh wait, you were serious, let me laugh even harder. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Even with the very tiny amount of money the US spends on its space program (compared to something like military spending or social security) the human race as a whole has benefited significantly from the things we have learned while doing it. Not just that the moon is grey and barren, or that ants still make anthills in zero gravity, but new materials, new ways to do old things, new computing, new understanding about the universe, a better understanding of the sun and outer planets and greater understanding of the building blocks of the earth itself.

It wasn't just some wasted hole that they poured money into to piss off the Russians.

Space exploration and the whole area around how to actually explore space needs much more funding than it currently has.

Re:economic stupidity (4, Insightful)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 5 years ago | (#29900283)

"Space is a frontier for our great-grandchildren to consider"

We will always have the poor.

If not now, when? If not us, who?

Re:economic stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29900309)

Yeah, I'm jealous too.

Did it really go ok? (5, Interesting)

Mordstrom (1285984) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899379)

I am just glad I was not riding in that simulator. Did anyone else notice the separation, and the flight path of the (in the future to be occupied) simulator? The booster and the simulator appeared to tumble after separation. It could have been the camera angle I suppose, but that front section should have continued on, correct?

Re:Did it really go ok? (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899405)

it would have done, had it been real and full of rocket fuel. As far as I can tell, because it wasn't a proper 'seperation' (ie, once the bolts were seperated there was prolonged contact), allowing for some slight jostling, meaning the upper stage and the lower stage collided at some point and probably caused the cartwheeling.

But I'm not a scientist, so don't take my word for it :)

Re:Did it really go ok? (2, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899431)

There was no rocket attached to the simulator and hence no method to stabalize it's flight, at least that I what I assumed.

Re:Did it really go ok? (2, Insightful)

Necron69 (35644) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899549)

The upper stage was clearly hit by the first stage and left tumbling after the separation. In the NASA feed, they had several minutes of continued video from the upper stage with a cartwheeling background, but I'm assuming that it had no attitude control. Glad nobody was riding in it.

Necron69

That was expected... (2, Informative)

sean.peters (568334) | more than 5 years ago | (#29900219)

The upper stage was unpowered - it was just dead weight that was meant to simulate the mass, moment, strength, etc; of the real first stage. It wasn't meant to do anything but essentially fall off the booster at the end of the flight.

Re:Did it really go ok? (5, Informative)

agentgonzo (1026204) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899563)

The booster was supposed to fall into a tumble to increase drag so that it wouldn't hit the upper stage simulator (which it may have done anyway). It had rocket motors attached at the base to perform this manoeuvre and you can see these firing at separation. The upper stage simulator (USS) was unguided and little more than a lump of metal to act as the mass of the real upper stage. As such, it's not surprising that it would fall into a tumble after separation, but it seemed to do more-so than people were expecting. This is not a problem as the USS had no parachutes and landed and sank (as intended) in the Atlantic.

Re:Did it really go ok? (4, Informative)

ausoleil (322752) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899619)

The booster is supposed to tumble after separation, that is its design. Look at its closest twin, the Shuttle SRBs, and you will notice that they tumble immediately after they are separated.

That is by design. On the shuttle, ,illiseconds after SRB separation, 16 solid-fueled separation motors, four in the forward section of each SRB and four in the aft skirt of each SRB, are fired for just over one second to help carry the SRB's away from the rest of the Shuttle. Each of the separation motors can produce a thrust of about 22,000 pounds.

The SRB's continue to ascend in a slow, tumbling motion for about 75 seconds after SRB separation, to a maximum altitude of about 220,000 feet. The SRB's then begin to quickly fall toward the Atlantic Ocean.

The Ares SRB derivative uses a very similar system. That in mind, 1st stage tumbling is okay.

As for second stage tumbling, that was almost certainly due to being an unpowered can, for all intents and purposes. While the mockup used in today's flight has the same mass and aerodynamic shape as the real thing, it does not have thrust.

There may also have been some contact, and it is there that something could well be learned. Could be that a stronger retro motor is needed on the second stage coupled with a stronger sep motor on the 2nd. That will come out in the reports that will be filed later.

This was a test, after all, and a good one: it proved that Ares can fly. It flew quite well for some time, and it looked smoother than we may have expected. No obvious pogo-ing, for example.

Re:Did it really go ok? (1)

lenorin (1203022) | more than 5 years ago | (#29900101)

Despite the second stage being a mass dummy and completely unpowered I do not believe that is sufficient reason to say that contact between the stages would lead to anything but catastrophic abort. If the stages are close enough to contact, you would probably not want to light your second stage.

Re:Did it really go ok? (1)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899659)

The simulator was not powered in this test, so I would assusme if it had been it would have had engines that would have fired to cause it to continue it's trajectory and achieve and maintain orbit.

tumble motor (1)

p51d007 (656414) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899901)

Go back and listen to the audio. (unless they made this part up for you tin-foil hat types) After burnout, they separated, and ignited a "tumble motor" to send both parts off on another direction so they wouldn't bump into each other. The rocket motor was the important part, and was recovered. The "mass simulator", the upper section was not recovered and was expendable.

Re:Did it really go ok? (1)

Gravitron 5000 (1621683) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899975)

I am just glad I was not riding in that simulator. Did anyone else notice the separation, and the flight path of the (in the future to be occupied) simulator? The booster and the simulator appeared to tumble after separation. It could have been the camera angle I suppose, but that front section should have continued on, correct?

The stage that they are using a simulator for is not designed yet, and hence would be quite dangerous to ride. Why would someone assume that it would be remotely safe? It's called a simulator for a reason. It's pretty much just ballast.

frickin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29899445)

I think he misspelled frackin

And the AP fumbles the headline... (1)

Shag (3737) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899513)

NASA's new moon rocket makes first test flight [google.com] .

Moon... Ares I... Yeah, let us know how that works out for you.

*sigh*

Full Circle? (1)

TheBilgeRat (1629569) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899525)

Even though the Space Shuttle was a boondoggle and had its problems, it seems odd that we are going right back to the type of vehicle that started it all. DNRTFA, but is there a new and improved capsule to mount to this thing? Or are we just going to give up and use Soyuz capsules?

Re:Full Circle? (1)

cowscows (103644) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899689)

A new capsule is being developed. But the basic idea is indeed very similar to the capsule on top of a rocket that spaceflight started with. The shuttle is an amazing job of engineering, but at the end of the day, it turned out that making a vehicle capable of gliding to a landing isn't an effective way of reducing cost per launch.

Re:Full Circle? (2, Funny)

jandrese (485) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899957)

More importantly, they discovered that putting the payload on the side of the rocket instead of on top of it is, in the end, a bad idea.

Re:Full Circle? (3, Informative)

phliar (87116) | more than 5 years ago | (#29900063)

Gliding back to land is not a big deal, the biggest problem with the Shuttle is the false economy of having the main engines be re-usable. This means main engines are attached to the shuttle itself, which means the vehicle has to be mounted on the side of all that dangerous crap. If the main engines were one-use then the crew and orbiter could be on the very top of the assembly, safe from any fuel tank or SRB shenanigans. Furthermore, you could have a crew rescue rocket like the Apollo assembly had.

Put Up Or Shut Up (2, Insightful)

loose electron (699583) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899603)

Gee.. That's nice....

I wish NASA would do one of several things:
1. Concentrate on robotic missions and other non-manned science.
2. Put together a serious push for a Mars mission.

Things that I feel are an utter waste of time and money:
1. Going back to the moon purely to go back.
2. LEO (Low earth orbit) projects and questionable ISS science fair projects.

Put together a real push for Mars and get people excited about science and technology again. Or make a real effort in exo-planet research and searching for life around other star systems. (I did not say "intelligent life, or infer anything about aliens and flyingf saucers there!) The tools are available for both.

Also, manned missions to Mars are not "cost effective" but you can't beat the sizzle effect that you get from the "boots on the ground" of a live mission. Best bang for the buck there comes from the unmanned and robotic research.

Sad to say, NASA, for the most part has become another government bureaucracy. I would like to be proven wrong and see them return to what the did from 1960-1970, but the congressional money path probably won't happen again.

From 1963 to 1970 was a great time to be a kid watching all this stuff happen. Too bad there were a lot of other ugly things going on at the time, (Vietnam, Watergate, etc.) but history allows us to remember the great and suppress the ugly.

How about a space elevator project? Arthur C Clarke said we would build one roughly 50 years after we stopped laughing at teh concept. Well, the laughing seems to have died down.

Re:Put Up Or Shut Up (2, Interesting)

RedDrake (73616) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899811)

Well, the way I see it the Ares I is all about a heavy lifting body. That's somthing the shuttle really wasn't ever really capeable of. So to that end I'm very happy.

Going back to the moon isn't simply to say we could. We no longer have all the experianced people from the 60's and early 70's who ran the first Apollo missions. If we can't make it back to the moon then there is no reason to try for mars. To do a mars mission properly, we have to make sure we still can make it to the moon.

Between ARES for Lifting and VASMIR for going. We could be looking at very intresting time for exploration.

Re:Put Up Or Shut Up (1)

Drathos (1092) | more than 5 years ago | (#29900181)

No, Ares V is the heavy lift rocket. Ares I is just for crew launch, low earth orbit stuff.

Re:Put Up Or Shut Up (1)

Gravitron 5000 (1621683) | more than 5 years ago | (#29900133)

How about a space elevator project? Arthur C Clarke said we would build one roughly 50 years after we stopped laughing at teh concept. Well, the laughing seems to have died down.

Ha ha ha he he he ho ha ha he he *wheeze* *wheeze*

What happened during stage separation? (5, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 5 years ago | (#29899657)

I was watching the launch with my kids on NASATV, and just when the stages separated, the leading stage started to tumble, and NASATV went black. When they came back in 20 seconds or so, they were following the larger stage on its descent.

I have to say, the supersonic vapor plume around the rocket during acceleration was awesome. I said to my kids, "look, they just broke the sound barrier," and the announcer came on with "passing Mach 1".

Very cool looking rocket, more narrow exhaust plume than I'm used to seeing, interesting angled ascent (it didn't go up straight vertically like a shuttle). We like to rag on NASA, but if this is really a an under-3-year project, who am I to cast stones?

Re:What happened during stage separation? (1)

Cheeko (165493) | more than 5 years ago | (#29900225)

The blackout was one of the telemetry cameras failing. They mentioned this in one of the press releases.

I agree though, very elegant looking rocket, and damn was it fast.

I believe the trajectory was in part due to the fact that they weren't trying to reach orbit, they were just going to 21 miles and letting it fall back to earth over the Atlantic.

Are the problems with Ares resolved? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29899899)

I originally understood the Ares rocket to be based around (somewhat outdated) solid propellant technology, meaning the the boosters can't be shut-down, controlled properly once lit, and suffer from severe resonance of the structure of the rocket from combustion instability of the solid propellant. As for solid propellant itself, this is a total nightmare - voids in the propellant, controlling grain size, differences in batch quality, effect of temperature, and binding of the propellant to inhibitors, insulation materials, and coatings. These sort of problems effectively make it impossible to 'man rate' this type of booster (at least without unacceptable risks - although I'm sure the politicos will protest at such engineering assessments!).
I was wondering if anyone knows if NASA has redesigned the Ares around more modern style staged combustion engines that use a liquid propellant, so that it will actually be safe for manned missions?
If not, I fear that this will be the end of the US space program, which has become a particularly sad and pathetic shadow of that of other more successful countries.

Congrats NASA (0, Troll)

TopSpin (753) | more than 5 years ago | (#29900055)

Did Bolden even bother to be on hand for this?

It's flight hardware now. Can't call it a 'boondoggle' or whatever media-speak they had been using. That much more poisonous a pill to swallow when they kill it.

Also, the 'thrust oscillation' theory is on it's last leg. The 5 segment ATK ground test showed no threatening oscillation. This launch won't either. Won't stop any of you from prattling on about it, however.

Some notes regarding the launch (4, Interesting)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 5 years ago | (#29900153)

Some items to note:

  • The rocket [nationalgeographic.com] [nationalgeographic.com] was the tallest [space.com] [space.com] (and possibly most expensive, at $450 million) suborbital rocket ever assembled, consisting of a solid rocket motor from the Space Shuttle and an Atlas V avionics system, with a non-functional upper stage put on top.
  • The Ares I-X has roughly the same shape (but different internal components) compared to NASA's planned medium-lift Ares I, which is scheduled to be completed after 2017 with an estimated cost of $1-$2 billion per launch. A lot of people have been calling this a flight test of the Ares I, but considering how drastically different the Ares I would be in flight, it's really quite a stretch, and it also unfortunately doesn't address any of the biggest potential problems with the Ares I (5-segment booster vibration properties, launch abort survivability, etc.). If anything, it's more similar to a full-size wind tunnel test.
  • Even though the fate of the Ares I itself (and the overall future direction [thespacereview.com] [thespacereview.com] of NASA spaceflight) is uncertain, the >700 sensors on the Ares I-X should provide data useful for validating computer models [spaceflightnow.com] [spaceflightnow.com] used by NASA."
  • For all its faults, it's still worth noting that this is somewhat of an accomplishment for NASA, as its the first new launch vehicle design they've attempted to launch in 30 years, after a long string of failed designs (X-30, X-33, X-34, National Launch System, Space Launch Initiative, Orbital Space Plane). Actually, now that I think about it, the DC-X [wikipedia.org] [wikipedia.org] successfully launched, although I suppose that was constructed by McDonnell Douglas for the DOD before it was transferred to (and canceled by) NASA. Of course, one could still ask why NASA is trying to internally design a new vehicle when the private sector has a much better track record over the past 30 years of bringing new launch vehicle designs into service, but I imagine it's still been a learning experience for NASA. Hopefully they'll learn the right lessons from it, whatever those are.

(I largely copied this from a comment I made yesterday, but it still seems pertinent)

I, for one, (1)

cadeon (977561) | more than 5 years ago | (#29900191)

Am still not a fan of the Ares design. I feel that the solid boosters are to blame for both of the Shuttle disasters (Challenger, directly, and Columbia and other ice impacts due to their extreme vibration) and as such feel that it's technology which should not be used for human flight. Ares I scales up use of the solid booster- Ares V, even more.

Don't get me wrong. I love the space program. I live in Florida and have a NASA tag on my car. I'm a year-pass holder for the visitor's complex. I just think that the Ares is a really bad design, influenced by contractors trying to hold on to their existing work, and it's going to hurt everything in the long run.

Looked like a fight to me (1)

elkto (558121) | more than 5 years ago | (#29900255)

The positive: Judging from the downward looking onboard camera, the vibrations and oscillations I was expecting were minimal at best. Great job!
BUT: The first part of the flight looked like a fight between the booster and the attitude control system. It was some time before the booster settled down. I could see a couple guys talking about it in the launch room. An absolutely visible cant to the bird. Probably gave the RSO the jitters!
Separation: Gads, the booster swung around as planned due to the rockets firing, but the top stage swung around just as quickly. Certainly would want data on that.
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