Ares is a NASA project. The plan is to build two new rockets. The rockets will play an important part in the future of human space exploration. They will be needed to launch astronauts to the moon, Mars and beyond. The new rockets will use technology based on past NASA launch vehicles.
What Is Ares I?
Ares I (1) is the smaller of the two Ares rockets. It will launch the new Orion spacecraft. Orion will be able to take as many as six astronauts to the International Space Station. It also will be able to take four astronauts to the moon.
How Will Ares I Work?
The Ares I rocket will have two stages. The lower stage will be like the solid rocket boosters used with the space shuttle but more powerful. The upper stage will use liquid rocket fuel. It will have an engine based on one that was used on the Saturn rockets of the Apollo program. Those rockets took astronauts to the moon in the past. The lower stage will burn for about two minutes. Then the upper stage will break away. The upper stage engine will fire for about six more minutes. Then the Orion spacecraft will leave the upper stage and be in orbit.
What Is Ares V?
Ares V (5) is the larger of the two Ares rockets. Astronauts will not use the Ares V to go into space, but it will be very important in getting humans back to the moon. It will take things into space that are needed to build an outpost on the moon. The Ares V will be used to launch the human lunar lander. Astronauts will ride into orbit on an Ares I rocket. Their Orion spacecraft will dock with the lunar lander while orbiting Earth. The top stage of the Ares V will fire its engines and push the Orion and the lander to the moon.
How Will Ares V Work?
Ares V will be two times bigger than the space shuttle. Like the space shuttle, Ares V will have two solid rocket boosters attached to its side when it launches. They will be like the larger solid boosters used for the bottom stage of the Ares I. They will burn for about two minutes after launch. Then they will break away from the rocket. Six liquid-fuel rocket engines also will be started at launch. They will be at the bottom of a stage that is like the big orange external tank used with the space shuttle. This stage will fire until the fuel is gone, then drop away from the rocket, too. Then the top stage will enter orbit. From there, Ares V's top stage can push cargo on the way to the moon.
When Will the Ares Rockets Fly?
Work has already started on the Ares I. The first test flight of an Ares rocket is planned for 2009. Other test flights will come later. Plans are for the Ares I to take astronauts to the International Space Station by 2015. The Ares V is still in a very early planning stage. But NASA's goal is to send humans on missions to the moon by 2020.
More about Ares
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