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article imageClouds and a cargo ship ground NASA's new rocket

By Brian Lidster     Oct 27, 2009 in Science
Cloudy skies and an unwelcome cargo ship made National Aeronautics and Space Administration officials call off the test flight of their newest design of moon rockets.
The launch of the new Ares 1-X rocket originally set for Tuesday has been postponed until Wednesday morning from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
The cancellation of the unmanned test flight came after unfavourable weather rolled in along with an unidentified cargo ship that floated into NASA’s no-boating zone near the launch pad during Tuesday’s final countdown.
The cargo ship in the Atlantic began to sail too close to the launch pad, a violation that can lead to jail time and fines of up to $250,000 although no charges for the have been laid yet.
Officials waited for the ship to move away and the countdown resumed.
Minutes later, the countdown stopped once again as a cloud began to move into the rockets path forcing NASA officials to cancel the launch and wait until Wednesday.
“Tomorrow's weather improves somewhat, with a 40 percent ‘no-go,’” said a statement from NASA’s website.
The weather is more of a concern to the Ares Rocket than space shuttles in the past as it is more fragile to moisture from clouds.
By flying through a cloud, friction of the raindrops on the rocket could create, as the New York Times describes, “a static electric charge that would disrupt radio communication, most crucially the self-destruct command if the rocket should go awry.”
The 100-meter Ares 1-X rocket is NASA’s newest development and is expected to replace the space shuttle design which began their career in space exploration career in 1981. The space shuttle's retirement will take place next year after six more flights.
The development program for the Ares has cost $445 million (US) and is the first rocket NASA has developed since the creation of the space shuttle in the 1970’s.
The newly developed rocket brings hope to returning U.S. astronauts to the moon sometime close to the year 2020 yet critics are beginning to question the price tag on the rocket and concerns it is too far behind schedule.
More about Ares, NASA, Shuttle, Launch
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