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Constellation/Orion: Back to the Moon [Slide Show]

America prepares for the next lunar missions

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Ares 5 Heavy Lifter

Ares 5 wields the power of five mighty rocket engines. A central fuel tank delivers liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen propellants to the vehicle’s five RS-68 engines, each a modified version of the ones currently used in the Delta 4 military and commercial launcher.....[ More ]

Wind Tunnel Tests

A scale model of the Orion Crew Launch Vehicle undergoes wind tunnel testing at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. A schlieren image, or shadow pattern, reveals the supersonic airflow around the model, which is set at a six-degree angle of attack into the onrushing air.....[ More ]

Ares 1 Wind Tunnel Test

Steve Buchholz, a test engineer at NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., adjusts a scale model of the Ares 1 crew launch vehicle before a trial run in the center's 22-foot long wind tunnel in late February 2006.....[ More ]

Ares 1 from the Top

The Ares 1 launch vehicle stands ready for liftoff. Sitting atop the launcher is the Orion crew capsule and service module, the latter of which contains the spacecraft's on-orbit propulsion engine and much of its life-support system.....[ More ]

Ares Inside and Out

Slimmer than its big brother Ares 5, Ares 1 towers 327.2 feet—about 27 stories—above the launch pad. The launch vehicle, which will carry the Orion crew exploration vehicle to low Earth orbit, consists of a solid-fuel rocket booster and a liquid-fuel J-2X engine–powered second stage.....[ More ]

Ares 1 up Close

NASA's two-stage Ares 1 crew launch vehicle (sometimes called the "Stick") comprises a modified space shuttle booster (constructed by Alliant Techsystems) topped by a second stage that is powered by a single J-2X motor, a descendant of NASA's Apollo -era Saturn 5 J-2 upper-stage engine.....[ More ]

Poised and Ready

The Ares 1 crew launcher features two stages—a solid-fuel rocket stage adapted from the space shuttle—and a second stage powered by a liquid-fuel engine. In the first phase of flight, Ares 1's solid-fuel booster will drive the vehicle to a maximum speed of around Mach 6.....[ More ]

Static Ground Test-Firing (view 2)

ATK Thiokol engineers tested a five-segment solid rocket motor from the space shuttle program in late 2003 to establish its operational limits. The success of this test-firing provided an extra level of confidence in the solid-fuel booster technology, which is now expected to be used on the Constellation program's Ares 1 and 5 launch vehicles.....[ More ]

Static Ground Test-Firing (view 1)

Engineers for ATK Thiokol in Promontory, Utah, test fired a five-segment solid-fuel rocket motor from the space shuttle program in October 2003 to determine its operational limits. The success of this trial, which ran for 128 seconds and generated more than 3.6 million pounds of thrust, provided an extra degree of confidence in the booster technology, which is expected to be used on NASA's Ares 1 and 5 launch vehicles.....[ More ]

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