Ares is a NASA project that involves the construction of two new rockets. The rockets will play an important part in the future of human space exploration. They are being built as a part of NASA’s new human exploration program, Constellation. The Ares rockets will play an important role as astronauts travel to the moon, Mars and beyond. The new rockets will use technology based on earlier NASA launch vehicles.
Ares Launch Vehicles
What Is Ares I?
Ares I (1) is the smaller of the two Ares rockets. It will be used to launch the new Orion spacecraft. Orion will be able to carry as many as six astronauts to the International Space Station. It also will be able to carry four astronauts to the moon.
How Will Ares I Work?
The Ares I rocket will have two stages. The lower stage will be a more powerful version of the solid rocket boosters used with the space shuttle. The upper stage will use liquid rocket fuel. It will have an engine based on one that was used on the Saturn rockets that carried astronauts to the moon in the past. The lower stage will burn for about two minutes. Then the upper stage will separate from the lower stage and continue the flight. After about six more minutes, 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. Ares V will not launch astronauts, but it will play an important role in returning humans to the moon. Ares V will carry equipment into space that will make it possible to create an outpost on the moon. For human landings, the Ares V will launch the astronauts' lunar lander. Astronauts will fly into orbit on an Ares I. The crew's spacecraft will dock in orbit with the lunar lander that is mounted on the top stage of the Ares V. That top stage then will push the Orion and the lander to the moon's orbit. Astronauts will descend to the surface of the moon in the lunar lander. The Ares V could also be used to place other large supplies or spacecraft in space.
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 similar to the larger solid boosters used as the bottom stage of the Ares I. They will burn for about two minutes after launch, then separate away from the rocket. They fall into the ocean, where they can be recovered. Six liquid-fuel rocket engines also will start at launch. They will be at the bottom of a stage that is like the external fuel tank on the space shuttle. This stage will fire until the fuel is gone, then will drop away. The top stage then will enter Earth orbit. From there, it can propel cargo on the way to the moon. The upper stage uses the same engine as the Ares I upper stage.
When Will the Ares Rockets Fly?
Work already is well underway on the Ares I. The first test flight of an Ares I rocket is scheduled for 2009. Other test flights will follow. Plans are for the Ares I to be used to take astronauts to the International Space Station by 2015. The Ares V is still in a very early stage of development. NASA's goal is to send humans on missions to the moon by 2020.
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