Ares I-X Launch

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Earth, from the Ares I-X rocket.

That was nice—the Ares gave us a smooth, simple launch.  It looks like a very nice rocket.  I’ll miss the Space Shuttle when it goes, but I won’t miss the technical problems, safety concerns, or launch delays.  I have to admit that, even though I have been an enthusiastic fan of the Space Shuttle program from its inception, I was deeply disappointed when I found out they were launching what should have been a space plane vertically, like a rocket.  Instead of building a true Earth-to-Orbit aircraft, they strapped their aircraft onto a YAR (Yet Another Rocket), and an uber-complicated, troublesome YAR at that.

Of course, in the Ares I-X they’ve also built a YAR, however it seems they’ve built a YAR that takes a welcome step toward simplicity.  All stages can be recovered like shuttle boosters, and maybe it’ll be less expensive than the human-launch systems of the past.  If it gets replaced by a commercially owned, horizontal-launch system, then I’m still way good with that too.

That’s the thing isn’t it.  This rocket won’t be ready for actual use until after the space station is “deorbited” and new commercial ventures operating true “space planes” take over low Earth orbit, so why did they spend the money to launch Ares I-X at all?

To learn.

Why do we study space and space flight in general?

To learn.

What good is all that expensive stuff anyway, what with a financial recovery, healthcare costs, and starving people all over the world?

To learn.

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The Saturn V breaks the sound barrier en route to Earth's first manned Moon landing.

You see, it was worth it, even if Space-X and similar ventures grow to become the low Earth orbit, man-launch vehicle of choice and we never see this rocket in this configuration again.  Space-X couldn’t reach into space today without the lessons learned from the NASA launches of yesterday, and the Space-X-like ventures of tomorrow will feed off of this launch.  Ares I-X is also our first step in the direction of manned spaceflight outside of low-Earth orbit.  This test is part of the ongoing development of the rocket configuration that will take humankind back to the Moon and off to Mars.  I watched the first Moon landing as a kid, sitting cross-legged in front of the TV.  I still remember it, and it’ll be great to go back.

Folks may ask what good those programs will do, why go to those places?

To learn some more.

What will we learn that will actually benefit humankind?

I don’t know—yet.  Ask me again later, after we’ve learned it.

But I’m still gonna miss the shuttle.

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~ by Bill Housley on October 29, 2009.

2 Responses to “Ares I-X Launch”

  1. [...] Continue reading here: Ares I-X Launch « Bill Housley – Science Fiction and Fantasy Author [...]

  2. [...] would have fared any better in this situation. When I discussed the Ares I-X test launch here on this blog last year, I praised the use of well-tested, tried and true technology. It was a breath of fresh air to see [...]

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