NASA Podcasts

NE@Ares IX Live Part 2
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Ares I-X Flight Demonstration
- Ashley Edwards
- Jill Marlowe
Fan Reactions with Franklin

NASA EDGE takes the show live to cover the historic launch of Ares I-X. Featuring a long list of guests (Michelle Ferebee –Aerospace Education Services Program, Jill Marlowe – Systems Engineering Directorate, Ashley Edward – Public Affairs Office NASA HQ, Jon Cowart – Ares I-X) and Franklin’s fan reaction videos, the entire NASA EDGE team weathers multiple launch delays to bring you the incredible, triboelectrification free launch of Ares I-X. In fact, there is so much jammed into the program we have to deliver it in two parts!

Part 2

CHRIS: Now, it’s onto a pretty cool segment. We have our twitter up or email segment, where we’re going to take your questions. We have another expert that has joined us to my right. We have Ashley Edwards, who is PAO Officer with the Explorations Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. Welcome, Ashley.

ASHLEY: Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here.

CHRIS: I’m glad you had a chance to come by and talk with us and answer some questions. We’ll see what we have from the audience. Let’s see.

ASHLEY: Let’s go.

CHRIS: Jacky, what’s the first question? What do we have?

JACKY: The first question, let’s see. What happens if the Ares I-X blows up?


ASHLEY: If the Ares I-X blows up, we’ll be very, very busy. Of course, we don’t expect that to happen. We wouldn’t be launching it if we weren’t absolutely confident that it was ready to go. We’ve tested and verified every system. However, it is a test and we can expect some things to happen that are unexpected. I’m pretty sure we won’t see anything blowup today though.

CHRIS: That’s an important part. As you try to tell the public, as engineers, some things don’t work the first time. That’s why you have trial and error and you have iterations and redesigns. You retest. It’s an important step in the engineering process. Isn’t it?

JILL: That’s absolutely right.

ASHLEY: One thing about tests, especially the tests, you learn from your mistakes. Sometimes a good failure will teach you more than an absolutely perfect test. We have to keep that in mind as we go forward with this. This is the first test in 30 years of a new vehicle. This is very exciting.

CHRIS: Speaking about testing. We have another question. With rumors of Ares going away, that’s a big talk right now, why are we testing Ares I-X?

ASHLEY: It’s no secret that the program is under consideration and under review right now. Whatever the forward path is, this test is incredibly important. On that rocket behind me are 700 sensors that are going to verify…

CHRIS: Data.

ASHLEY: All that data, her data, is going to verify all of the modeling and simulation software that they used to design this vehicle. It’s going to help us hone in our models and simulations and it’s going to be valuable no matter what.

CHRIS: Cool. This Ares I-X, as we were talking about before, is made up of many pieces. A lot of those pieces were built at different NASA centers and different facilities across the country. Explain how everyone came together to build the rocket. Who’s involved?

ASHLEY: It’s a huge feat in systems engineering to have piece parts built all across the country. We have all at Marshall Space Flight System has been involved; Langley Research Center has been involved, of course everything was put together here in Florida but it wasn’t necessarily built here. Can you give me…

JILL: Glenn Research Center…

ASHLEY: Glenn Research Center.

JILL: They built the upper stage.


JACKY: The other interesting part is they actually arrived to KSC in different ways. They used several different… What are the different ways?

JILL: The very tip of the rocket arrived on an airplane, the back of a really big airplane. The middle segment, that we call the tuna cans, the upper stage, arrived by barge, I believe.

JACKY: The tuna cans.

JILL: The tuna cans. Yeah. You can probably figure out why they’re called the tuna cans. Imagine slices that just look like enormous tuna cans.

ASHLEY: I have a little bit of trivia about those. They’re 18 feet in diameter, I understand, but they’re 9 ½ feet tall. The question is, why are they 9 ½ feet tall? The answer is because they were on barge they needed to be able to go under the tunnels and they’re 9 ½ feet clearance. That’s one of design influences is barges and tunnels.

CHRIS: I know from Langley we were responsible for the launch abort system and the crew module. That was shipped by airplane down to Kennedy.

JILL: Right.

ASHLEY: Planes, trains, and automobiles.

JILL: Huge feat in logistics…

CHRIS: Right behind us we have a hold. Generally, what does that mean for a typical launch when we have a hold.

ASHLEY: That’s just the point where they check out everything one last time before we proceed. In the Space Shuttle launches, there are several holds along the way. With this Ares I-X there’s only one hold. It’s 4 minutes and we’ll keep that hold until we’re ready to go.

CHRIS: Okay.

ASHLEY: For more information and the most recent status, you need to look at the Ares I-X launch blog, which is on the Ares I-X page. You can get the most recent information about where we are.

JACKY: If the launch gets delayed, how long is that delay? There’s a window.

ASHLEY: Right. The window is 4 hours. We have the availability to launch anytime between 8 a.m. to 12 today, 4 hours long. And if for some reason the weather doesn’t cooperate, then we’ll do it again tomorrow. And we’ll get it off then.

CHRIS: Let’s take a break from the questions and let’s go to Franklin. I think he has another fan video over at the turn basin. Franklin, what’s going on?

FRANKLIN: I’m standing here to see the Ares I-X launch and this is your first launch. How do you feel?

MAN: Oh, it’s pretty amazing. The weather is going to be great and the rocket is going to be awesome.

FRANKLIN: What do you think this means for the future of NASA going back to the moon?

MAN: I understand this is a pretty important milestone for you guys. And I wish that the rocket and everything stays together today and can help you guys out to go to the next step.

FRANKLIN: What does it mean to you to be out here today to see the launch of Ares I-X?

MAN: Since I work here, it’s definitely a big milestone for us. I’m looking for a successful flight and it’s going to prove that this new Ares vehicle is going to be able to one day bring humans back into space, and take over what the Shuttle has been doing for many years.

CHRIS: Ashley, I know you have to take off soon. You’re very busy. Your schedule is pretty hectic today.

ASHLEY: It is.

CHRIS: I want to thank you for coming by and sharing a few minutes. Before you go, just one more question you have to answer.

ASHLEY: Great.

CHRIS: Maybe you two can tag team on this. This is an interesting question. This is from Robert Pearlman. His question… What is the connection between Ares I-X and the Hubble Space Telescope?

ASHLEY: Wow! That’s a good question.

JILL: I know what my answer is.

ASHLEY: Would you like to go first?

JILL: I think the connection is exploration. Hubble is all about figuring out the origins of the universe and wondering what else is out there. In a way, Ares I-X is giving rise to the next human space transportation system and it’s purpose is exactly the same thing. It’s to help us explore.

ASHLEY: I couldn’t answer it better.

CHRIS: I think you’re free to go now. Thank you, Ashley.

ASHLEY: Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a pleasure.

CHRIS: Let’s go to another video. We’ll be back in a few seconds.

FRANKLIN: Where do you see NASA going in the next 50 years?

MAN: In the next 50 years, I see us getting back to the moon, putting people on the moon again. Also, I hope to see that we put people on Mars for the first time ever. And in a broader spectrum, not necessarily destination, I’d like to see us inspire our youth to once again become the leader in education in the science and technology realm.

FRANKLIN: This is your first launch. How does it feel to be out here today?

WOMAN: I’m excited. I can’t wait but it sounds like it’s delayed for a few minutes.

FRANKLIN: Does the delay get you anxious?

WOMAN: Since I’ve been up since 4:30 this morning, yes, a little bit longer to wait. I’m still looking forward to it. I can’t wait.

FRANKLIN: What do you expect to see this morning?

WOMAN: A lot of bright lights and the rocket going up into space.

CHRIS: We have about 8 minutes till launch, theoretically. I think at this point we might be on a hold. We don’t know the exact time yet but we’re hoping it’s going to launch in less than 8 minutes. Before we get to another fan video, I want to let you know you can download a NASA EDGE vodcast at or you can send and email question to or if you’re on twitter, look us up at NASA_EDGE Send in a tweet and hopefully Jill can answer your questions.

BLAIR: We have a team working on it constantly to get those questions to us.

CHRIS: We just got an update. It looks like estimated launch time now for Ares I-X is 8:29 am eastern daylight time. It looks like we’re not going to be launching on time. I know we’re probably all a little disappointed because we wanted to see an on time launch. Things happens. It’s not the rocket it’s the weather.

CHRIS: Just seconds ago, 4 minute hold, the clock is not counting down. We’re at three minutes and 47seconds till launch.

JACKY: I’ve never seen that before other than on TV. It’s amazing.

CHRIS: It’s amazing. Everybody is flocking out of the building and coming out.

BLAIR: A flurry of activity.

JACKY: They’re all coming out with they’re cameras ready to go.

BLAIR: The enthusiasm is palpable.

CHRIS: People are getting their cell phone cameras out, video cameras. They’re all ready to go. And you’re getting nervous.

JILL: I am.

BLAIR: It is a big deal because at this point we are moving and we will have a launch barring anything significant. We’re in the window now.

CHRIS: Wait a minute. We have a hold. 2:39 we have a hold.

BLAIR: Good, because we have more people to thank. I feel like we need the set therapist on the set because this is a roller coaster. Poor Jill. You’re here at the pinnacle of your career and accomplishment. It’s going. It’s not going. It’s going.

JILL: Yeah, so it happens.

BLAIR: You can step away and punch somebody. I don’t know who that would be.

JILL: Are you volunteering?

BLAIR: I will. I would do that for you. I would take one for the team.

CHRIS: The clock has now reset to 4 minutes, 5 seconds. Maybe the clock might start counting down soon.

BLAIR: We just don’t know. Did the clock go?

JACKY: Oh, yeah!

CHRIS: The clock is back to 4 minutes.

BLAIR: NASA is worse than my high school dating career.

JACKY: We’re not supposed to talk about that sad part of your life.

CHRIS: You can see the clouds rolling in near the pad. Maybe it’s not only the ship that’s been in the landing zone but maybe this triboelectrification now might be a factor because the clouds are moving in.

CHRIS: We just got an update. There is clear weather. We’re 15 minutes away.

JILL: Right.

CHRIS: There’s clear weather for 15 minutes.

JILL: Okay.

BLAIR: Fifteen minutes away. So if you have a box of 15 here and a box of 15 here. This is the bad weather box of 15. And then you have a good weather box right here. You have to have your boxes straight.

CHRIS: Up and down. Up and down.

JACKY: Actually it hasn’t gone up at all.

BLAIR: Oh, wow.

JILL: She’s quick.

BLAIR: Let’s have some confidence here. We do still have a possibility. The weather is still open.

CHRIS: We just had a twitter from NASA Headquarters that said, “After this launch they want their triboelectrification t-shirt.”

BLAIR: There’s an opportunity out there for somebody.

CHRIS: Now we got word… Word is changing by the second. It’s amazing.

JACKY: And who’s bringing it to you NASA EDGE?

CHRIS: That’s right. NASA EDGE live.

BLAIR: Schizophrenically here.

CHRIS: The count down will be starting at 11:10.

CHRIS: Do you know how we are about info changing all the time. Now we just found out the clock will start at 11:20.

JILL: Wow.

BLAIR: You know, it’s not something we should bring up but I wonder what the odds are in Vegas at this point on the launch.

CHRIS: Welcome back to NASA EDGE.

JACKY: An inside and outside look at all things NASA.

BLAIR: And a somber mood, though still live, we do have to postpone till tomorrow.

CHRIS: Yes, the mission has been scrubbed till tomorrow at 8 a.m.

CHRIS: You’re looking live at the Ares I-X rocket on Pad 39B at NASA Kennedy Space Center. You’re watching NASA EDGE.

CHRIS: Welcome back for the 15th time. You’re watching NASA EDGE.

JACKY: An inside and outside look at all things NASA.

BLAIR: We’re really glad we can come here today and… Well, I can’t claim anything. We don’t know if we’re actually going to see the launch but we’re going to try for the umpteenth time.

CHRIS: The word of the day that will hopefully not be in the way during those 4 minutes…

JACKY: Triboelectrification.

CHRIS: Absolutely.

JACKY: It took me a little bit to say that.

BLAIR: In fact many versions of that word are running around twitter right now because we’ve been asking for people to give definitions of that word or variations of that word.

CHRIS: Of the word, tribo-; I think my favorite version is tribo-delayification.

BLAIR: Anyone want to take a shot of defining tribo-electrification?

CHRIS: Go ahead.

BLAIR: That’s why I asked because I didn’t want to be the one to have to define it. The greek, tribo, has to do with friction.

CHRIS: That’s right.

BLAIR: And actually tribology is the study of friction; one aspect is the study of friction.

CHRIS: Right.

BLAIR: It all has to do with electrostatic particles charging and discharging onto the rocket causing damage to the sensors.

CHRIS: Just want to let you know, we have our SME, who’s not with us, Jill Marlowe from NASA Langley Research Center, who was with us yesterday.

FRANKLIN: Jill, what has happened since yesterday morning when you were on the air with the guys?

JILL: I got to eat lunch with some of the folks in Hanger AE, the support to the Firing Room. I got hear all the chatter that was happening back there. That was exciting. A lot of dialogue about winds and the loads that were happening, a lot of dialogue about that ship, as you can imagine. And now we’re going to launch a rocket today. I can feel it in my bones.

BLAIR: She was pretty confident in the launch today. She checked out of her hotel. She was bold in her prediction. She didn’t place bets but that’s like placing a bet.

JACKY: She was hoping. She was ready for it yesterday. I think all of us were. Now we’re just at the brink of hopefully seeing the Ares I-X rocket launch.

CHRIS: Just got word, at 11:30 a.m. EDT, we have a 10 minute window.

CHRIS: Oh, wait! We have green for launch. What time is that?

CHRIS: All right. We are back live. We are waiting for the countdown. It’s been changed. We have about 15 seconds. It’s going to start.

BLAIR: Wow, I’m nervous.

CHRIS: I am starting to get nervous. It’s actually going to happen.

BLAIR: We’ve gotten to this point so many times before.

CHRIS: There it goes.

BLAIR: The clock has started.

CHRIS: Less than 4 minutes. Here we go. Triboelectrification is not an issue anymore.

BLAIR: Yes, theoretically. It’s still out there.

CHRIS: We have less than a minute and a half. I bet Jill is crying.

NASA CONTROLLER: The hand off of the ground computers to the Ares I-X flight computer has occurred.

CHRIS: We have Blair taking pictures of the launch.

BLAIR: I can’t keep it steady. I’m so nervous.

NASA CONTROLLER: T minus 1 minute.

CHRIS: T minus 1 minute.

BLAIR: We’re 1 minute away.

NASA CONTROLLER: Sound suppression water system, now armed. The solid rocket booster joint heaters are being turned off.


CHRIS: Jacky, enjoy your first launch.

JACKY: Thank you.

BLAIR: Sound suppression system engaged.

NASA CONTROLLER: And we’re now going inertial. The navigation system is activated.

CHRIS: 30 seconds.

BLAIR: Wow. This is it.

NASA CONTROLLER: Auxiliary power units have started.

CHRIS: Make sure you get the right pad. It’s not 39A; it’s 39B.

BLAIR: I got it covered.

NASA CONTROLLER: Solid rocket motor nozzle gimbal checks are under way. Ignition system is armed. Sound suppression water system is activated.

CHRIS: 10 seconds.

NASA CONTROLLER: T minus 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Ignition. Lift off of Ares I-X, testing concepts for the future of new rocket design.

CHRIS: Look at that go. Wow! Go Ares!

CHRIS: Wow. Look at that thing fly.

NASA CONTROLLER: Altitude now 2 miles.

NASA CONTROLLER: Vehicle has aligned itself with the planned trajectory. We’ve passed Mach 1; now passing Max Q

CHRIS: That’s incredible.

BLAIR: Man, that was great!

NASA CONTROLLER: Now passing Mach 2. Vehicle now 10 miles altitude; down range distance 8 miles.

CHRIS: Awesome. It’s still going.

continued NASA Ares I-X flight information

BLAIR: Wow, you can see it much further than you can see the shuttle usually.

CHRIS: Look at that. That is impressive.

NASA CONTROLLER: We’ve started the last PTI maneuvers; structural mode ID and we’ve passed T plus 105 seconds.

CHRIS: The only thing we have to do is jump in the boat and retrieve the SRB.

BLAIR: That’s right.

NASA CONTROLLER: Down range systems, 32 miles.

CHRIS: That’s incredible. We have separation.


CHRIS: Good job. Yes.


NASA CONTROLLER: We show a sep and a tumble motor ignition.

CHRIS: That’s awesome.

NASA CONTROLLER: We can confirm on video we see both parts of the vehicle tumbling.

CHRIS: Vehicle is tumbling. That is cool.

NASA CONTROLLER: Successful separation. Good clean signal all the way. T plus 150 seconds

BLAIR: Jill, congratulations to you and your team.

NASA CONTROLLER: We’ll have a burn out orbit perimeter in just a second.


CHRIS: That is incredible.

NASA CONTROLLER: T plus 190 seconds.

BLAIR: Jill and her entire team are just ecstatic because at least from our visual standpoint and what we heard over the comm., everything seems to be going as planned.

JACKY: I am in awe. I don’t even have words as to how amazing that was. You still see all the smoke of where the rocket was going. I can’t stop staring at it. It’s absolutely amazing.

BLAIR: All I have to say is take that triboelectrification.

CHRIS: That’s right.

BLAIR: In your face.

CHRIS: I want to congratulate the Ares I-X team for the past three years of working their tails off. I tell you what, that was unbelievable.

JACKY: This was it.

BLAIR: It’s so great.

CHRIS: Hopefully they’ll get the data they need and that will be the next step towards the next generation transportation system.

BLAIR: Because visually everything looked good. Now it will be a matter of the data. That was absolutely wonderful.

CHRIS: I also want to congratulate the team who worked behind the scenes. The DLN, the Digital Learning Network, Damon Talley, Jennifer, Christopher Blair. We still have to get him another name. Chris Blair, something is wrong with that. Rachel, Don Morrison, Ron Beard with NASA EDGE.

BLAIR: Spooner.

CHRIS: Spooner. Thank you. Derek Wang. Cheryl Johnson and the whole team. The list is long.

BLAIR: Michelle Ferobee.

CHRIS: Michelle Ferobee and Jill Marlowe, for sticking with us over the two days. We had a great time. Hopefully the next time we’re here for the last shuttle launch.

BLAIR: I hope so. Also our good friends at Space Vid Cast and twitter friends and followers, Facebook and everything else. You provided great questions.

CHRIS: And there’s no more tribo-delayification. We have a go. You’re watching NASA EDGE.

JACKY: An inside and outside look at all things NASA.

BLAIR: In your face triboelectrification.

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