NASA tests next-generation rocket for first time

WASHINGTON. October 29. KAZINFORM NASA on Wednesday launched the Ares I-X rocket in Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It's the first flight test for the agency's next-generation spacecraft and launch vehicle system; Kazinform refers to Xinhua.

Rocketing into the Florida sky, the 327-foot rocket thunders away from the 39B launch pad at 11:30 EDT (1530 GMT), marking the first time a new vehicle has launched from the complex since the first space shuttle launch in 1981.

The mission lasted two minutes, during which constant data were received over 700 sensors placed throughout the rocket.

At about the T+2 minute point in the flight, the upper stage simulator and first stage separated at approximately 130,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean. The unpowered simulator then splashed down in the ocean. The first stage was fired for a controlled ocean landing with parachutes that will allow recovery by one of NASA's booster recovery ships, while the other ship tracks the upper stage. It capped its easterly flight at a suborbital altitude of 150,000 feet after the separation of its first stage, a four-segment solid rocket booster.

The flight, NASA said, will allow the agency to "test and prove hardware, models, facilities and ground operations associated with the Ares I launch vehicle."

"This is a huge step forward for NASA's exploration goals," said Doug Cooke, associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Ares I-X provides NASA with an enormous amount of data that will be used to improve the design and safety of the next generation of American spaceflight vehicles -- vehicles that could again take humans beyond low Earth orbit."

"It was a spectacular day," said Bob Ess, Ares I-X mission manager. "The vehicle flew even better than we expected"; Kazinform cites Xinhua.

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