In 2009, NASA will launch the first test flight of its next-generation spacecraft and launch vehicle system. The test flight, called Ares I-X, will bring NASA one step closer to its exploration goals -- to return to the moon for more ambitious exploration of the lunar surface and to travel to Mars and destinations beyond.
The Ares I-X flight will provide any opportunity to test and prove hardware, facilities and ground operations associated with the Ares I crew launch vehicle. It also will allow NASA to gather critical data during ascent of the integrated Orion crew exploration vehicle and the Ares I launch vehicle stack -- data that will ensure the vehicle system as a whole is safe and fully operational before astronauts begin traveling into orbit.
Image Credit: NASA