Unless you’re living under a rock, you probably heard that NASA launched a new rocket today. Below are some photos from in and around the NASA Press Site and also some video of the launch that I took today. The video also contains some decent manatee footage. There are usually manatees hanging around the turn basin there near the Press Site.
The Ares I is intended to replace the Space Shuttle for launching astronauts into space after it retires in the next year or so. Today’s launch, dubbed the I-X mission, was an unmanned flight test of this new rocket. Not only was it unmanned, but the whole upper stage was fake and just dropped into the ocean after separation. But we’re taking baby steps here, people. Don’t want to bite off more than we can chew. 🙂
And here are some photos. Click on any photo for a full sized version.
Obligatory photo of the countdown clock with the launch vehicle in the background. It was 5am when I arrived at the Press Site this morning. Way way earlier than my normal arrival time.
Inside the NASA Press Site where they show various camera views of the launch vehicle and they also have some cool large models of the Ares I and also the future Ares V heavy lift cargo vehicle. These models are like 7 or 8 feet tall.
Various news channels shoot interviews all day long here at the NASA Press Site. Here you can see the Air Force weather officer getting some time on camera with Fox 35.
NASA TV showed some beautiful sunrise video …
… so I went outside to see it for myself.
Live trucks lined up in the NASA Press Site parking lot. You can see the rocket in amongst the transmission towers.
The NASA Press Site is about 3.5 miles from the launch pad. You can see the white rocket and the three really tall lightning towers around the launch pad. These towers were built especially for the Ares I program.
History was made tonight and I was there. It was pretty cool to witness the rollout of the Ares I-X test flight rocket first hand. Ares I is designed to replace the Shuttle for getting astronauts into orbit. Enough talk … here are the photos that I took and also a short edited video (click for larger versions of the photos):
This is the employee signature banner for Ares I-X. Each flight gets a banner that is displayed along with the vehicle and these banners are signed by KSC employees who have worked on that mission. I worked on the ground control system for the Ares I-X mission, so I made sure I signed this banner. I wonder if you can find my signature…
Can you find my signature now?
How about now?
The Ares I-X rocket doesn’t look terribly huge inside the massive Vehicle Assembly Building, but it’s nearly as tall as the Saturn V rockets that we used to go to the moon during the Apollo program.
Excitement is in the air as the new big rocket emerges from the VAB.
Isn’t she big and beautiful!
Not symmetrical by design. We’re re-using a Shuttle mobile launcher platform for this flight, which has two holes for solid rocket booster exhaust. So we mounted the Ares I-X rocket over one of the two SRB holes in the platform.
Glowing in the spotlights.
The spotlights were very bat-symbol-like. I didn’t get a good photo of it, but there was enough moisture in the air to clearly see the rocket’s silouette projected big and bold up into the sky. It was quite impressive.
Obligatory photo of me standing in front of the rocket for the scrapbook.
I worked at the NASA press site today in support of STS-125, the final Hubble servicing mission. The press site was really busy for this mission. Usually I escort media personnel to various locations for various reasons. To my surprise, today I was asked to escort some of the press photographers to the roof of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to photograph the launch. Wow! What an opportunity! It was a great launch and it went right on time. Here are some photos that I took from the top of the VAB. Click on each thumbnail for a larger version.