For the first time in nearly 30 years, a new type of rocket took off from Cape Canaveral this week. Though the first launch attempt was delayed by the weather, the second was a resounding success, with the Ares I-X covering 25 miles over a period of two minutes before dropping into the Atlantic for recovery.
That the test flight went off so smoothly is a profound testament to the amount of effort the people who worked on the Ares program put into it. In the words of launch director Ed Mango, “Think about what we just did. Our first flight test, and the only thing we’re waiting on was weather. That says you all did frickin’ fantastic.”
As for myself, considering that a friend and fellow aerospace student spent a rather long time referring to Ares as “the giant pogo-stick” because of the vibration problems the designers were having, I am both pleased and relieved that the launch went off so smoothly.
I got up early to watch the first launch attempt. While I obviously didn’t get to see the rocket go off, I did get a great aerial view of the place from a helicopter camera, which in addition to the Ares I showed two other launch pads in various states of preparedness. It was a beautiful sight, not least because for at least a moment, one was almost able to believe that after 50 years of effort Kennedy had finally blossomed into a real spaceport.
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