UPDATE: 11 October 2010. In a major policy speech, Barack Obama formally ended the Constellation Program. He instructed NASA to begin work on a rocket for deep space exploration. He also directed that commercially based means be used to launch ISS crew members.
Named after the Greek god for Mars, there will be two versions of the Ares, the Ares I and the Ares V. The Ares I will be used for low-earth orbit and missions to the ISS. Ares V will be the heavy lift vehicle for low-earth orbit, and for missions to the moon.
The Ares I was a two stage rocket topped by the Orion service module, crew module, and a launch escape system. The first stage was a five-segment reusable solid rocket booster based on the solid rocket booster used by the Space Shuttle. The second stage was powered by a J-2X which had evolved from the J-2 engine used by the Saturn IB and Saturn V rockets of the Apollo era. It was fueled by liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen.
Ares I had two missions. The first was to loft up to six astronauts or cargo to the International Space Station. The second mission was to loft four astronauts to low-earth orbit for rendezvous with an Ares V Earth Departure Stage for a journey to the moon.
The first stage would fire for two-and-a-half minutes, propelling the vehicle to 191,500 feet (58,369 meters) and Mach 5.9. The stage then separated and the second stage fired, increasing altitude to 439,700 feet (134 km). At this point, the engine on the Orion service module took over.
The Ares I-X flight test took place 28 October 2009. It was launched from Kennedy Space Center, pad 39-B at 15:30 UTC. This first Ares I flight test proved flight characteristics, hardware, facilities and ground operations. The flight lasted approximately 6 minutes, 2 of which were powered.
|Launch abort system||Orion Crew
|J-2X Upper Stage Engine|
Concept image of launch of Ares I. (NASA MSFC)
The Ares V was a two stage launch system capable of putting 284,000 pounds (131.8 metric tons) into low-earth orbit, or 144,000 pounds (65 metric tones) into lunar orbit.
The first stage consists of a core cluster of five RS-68 liquid fueled (liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen) rocket engines (derived from engines used in the Delta IV) and two five-segment solid rocket boosters (derived from the solid rocket boosters used by the Space Shuttle). Like the Ares I, the second stage is powered by a J-2X which has evolved from the J-2 engine used by the Saturn IB and Saturn V rockets of the Apollo era. It is fueled by liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. In the case of the Ares V, the second stage serves as the Earth Departure Stage for lunar missions. This stage is jettisoned after the Orion (mated with a Lunar Lander) is on a lunar trajectory.
|Earth Departure Stage|
|2 5-Segment RSRBs|
Concept image of Ares V in Earth orbit. (NASA/MSFC)