In lieu of an actual post…October 20, 2009
…here are some pretty pictures.
First batch: the Ares 1-X test vehicle rolled out of the Vehicle Assembly Building and down to the pad. If all goes well, it will be lifting off in about a week. This is the first launch in the Constellation program which is slated to replace the shuttle. In what should make a iconic transitional image, Ares 1-X is on Launch Pad 39B at the Cape while Atlantis is on Pad 39A, awaiting its Nov. 16 launch to the International Space Station.
I haven’t found any photos so far that show both pads, just lots of photos of the Ares 1-X.
It’s tall. Like 310 327 feet tall. For reference, the Space Shuttle stack (bottom of booster rocket to top of external tank) is only 184 feet tall. The only taller vehicle ever flown successfully is the Saturn V (363 ft), and the last one of those took off in 1973 to launch Skylab.* **
* Real boffins will tell you that the thing that launched Skylab was not a Saturn V but the one and only Saturn INT-21, but c’mon, it’s clearly a Saturn V with Skylab on top.
** Successfully is the operative term. Russia launched several of their N1 moon rockets (345 ft) between 1969 and 1972, but they all blew up. Until the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian leaders denied even having a moon program. [I realized later that it’s a bit snarky to point this out before any Ares rockets have flown at all. Fingers firmly crossed!]
Anyway, check out the cool pictures and keep your fingers crossed next week.
Second batch: apparently Saturn is pretty, or something. Definitely pretty cool.
One more week of teaching. Keep soakin’ up them photons.