BILL INGALL / NASA/ AP
With lots of hand shakes and applause all around in the control room, the Kennedy Space Center's director, Robert Cabana, called it "one of the most beautiful launches I've ever seen. Three years ago it was only a blank piece of paper. "
As we told you earlier today, this will be a short mission.
When the Ares 1-X hits 130,000 feet the solid-fuel motor — the first stage — will separate from a dummy second stage. Momentum will carry the second stage up another 20,000 feet before it tumbles back into the ocean. Parachutes will ease the solid-fuel motor’s descent; it will be recovered, just as the space shuttle’s solid-fuel motors are. The dummy second stage will fall into the ocean, break up and sink.
The data the rocket collects will help refine the design of the final product, the Ares 1. This is NASA’s new taxi to space for astronauts headed into low-Earth orbit.
We'll have more on the launch later.