NASA Unveils Moon Rocket

Next generation space travel is closer to reality with the Ares 1-X rocket making its debut this week.  The Constellation Program's centerpiece is supposed to be the rocket that launches Orion, the ship that will take astronauts back to the moon, but that dream may be fading away.

Nasa officials plan to go ahead with the Ares 1-X test flight even as Barack Obama's administration considers plans to shelve the Constellation programme through lack of funding.

A detailed review of Nasa's future programmes recently delivered to the White House raised concerns that the space agency does not have deep enough pockets to fulfil its vision for a return to the moon. The review said the agency may have to abandon the Ares rockets and switch to a cheaper design. (Photo: NASA).

Here's a rendering of an Ares launch.

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Here's a better animation of the full Orion mission to the Moon than the one I saw years ago...

I still don't like the design of the Altair lander, though: Dinky little tin can of an Ascent stage sitting on top of an effin' HUGE Descent stage!
Quite disproportionate, methinks. Looks like it'd be awfully cramped in there.
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Thanks for the clarification striatic.
I'm no rocket scientist, but are the Ares I and Ares V more disparate than the Saturn Ib and Saturn V? NASA handled those two divergent systems quite well.
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This is not a "moon rocket". Ares I is a low earth orbit transport designed primarily for getting people to the space station less expensively than on the Shuttle.

The capsule is designed to also be part of possible future lunar missions, but these missions would use a different launch system called Ares V.

This distinction is extremely important, because the systems are very, very different and it is unknown if NASA will be able to support two divergent launch systems.

An alternative proposed design is DIRECT, which inhabits the gap between Ares I and V, being capable of more complicated Low Earth Orbit missions as well as the lunar mission capability using two launches.
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