NASA'S Ares I-X completes successful first launch

NASA's Ares I-X test rocket lifted off at 11:30 a.m. EDT Wednesday from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a two-minute powered flight.

The test flight lasted about six minutes from its launch from the newly-modified Launch Complex 39B until splash down of the rocket's booster stage nearly 150 miles down range.

The 327-foot tall Ares I-X test vehicle produced 2.6 million pounds of thrust to accelerate the rocket to nearly 3 g's and Mach 4.76, just shy of hypersonic speed. It capped its easterly flight at a sub-orbital altitude of 150,000 feet after the separation of its first stage, a four-segment solid rocket booster.

Parachutes deployed for recovery of the booster and the solid rocket motor will be recovered at sea for later inspection. The simulated upper stage, Orion crew module, and launch abort system will not be recovered.

Wednesday's flight offered an early opportunity to test and prove hardware, facilities, and ground operations - important data for future space vehicles. During the flight, a range of performance data was relayed to the ground and also stored in the onboard flight data recorder. The 700 sensors mounted on the vehicle provide flight test engineering data to correlate with computer models and analysis. The rocket's sensors gathered information in several areas, including assembly and launch operations, separation of the vehicle's first and second stages, controllability and aerodynamics, the re-entry and recovery of the first stage and new vehicle design techniques.

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