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Tuesday, 02 June 2009 18:22

NASA: Ares takes over Shuttle launch pad 39B

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NASA announced on May 31, 2009, that its Launch Pad 39B at Cape Canaveral, Kennedy Space Center, has been transferred from the Shuttle Program to the new Constellation Program. Pad 39B will be readied for the first flight test of its new Ares I rocket, now scheduled for August 2009.


According to the NASA article “NASA’s shuttle program hands over launch pad to Constellation,” modifications to Launch Pad 39B will “… include removing the orbiter access arm and a section of the gaseous oxygen vent arm and installing access platforms and a vehicle stabilization system."

The first developmental test of the new Ares I rocket, called Ares I-X, is now scheduled for no earlier than August 30, 2009.

If it launches on that date, the liftoff time is tentatively set at 1100 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), or 7:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time EDT), which is local time in Florida.

The Ares I-X test will be a suborbital flight test, which will consist of a rocket that is similar in space, weight, and size to the actual configuration of the Ares I rocket.

Since the 1960s, when it was built to launch Apollo capsules onboard Saturn V rockets, pad B has been used to send astronauts to the Moon, around the Earth, and to the International Space Station via the Space Shuttle program.

Pad 39B will continue to serve the U.S. manned space effort for NASA’s next adventure into space: The Constellation Program.

NASA is now developing the Ares I and Ares V launch vehicles, the Orion crew capsule, and the Altair lunar lander. The NASA media brief states that the Constellation Program will “… carry humans to the International Space Station, the moon and beyond.”

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The NASA article adds, “The May 31 transfer of Launch Pad 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida from the Space Shuttle Program to the Constellation Program is the next step in preparing the first flight test of the agency's next-generation spacecraft and launch system."

NASA handed over Launch Pad 39B to the Constellation team on Sunday, May 31, 2009, after its space shuttle Endeavour was moved from Pad 39B to Pad 39A in preparation for its mission STS-127, another assembly flight to the International Space Station.

Its launch is scheduled for June 13, 2009.

Endeavour was stationed on Launch Pad 39B as a precaution during the previous STS-125 mission to the Hubble Space Telescope.

Space shuttle Endeavour would have launched as a rescue mission (STS-400) in case the space shuttle Atlantis crew ran into problems in space, being too far from the International Space Station to seek shelter.

NASA will continue to use Launch Pad 39A, a part of Launch Complex 39, for space shuttle (Space Transportation System, STS) missions.

The primary mission of STS-127 and its crews is to deliver and install the final two components of the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM), which consists of the Exposed Facility (JAM-EF) and the Exposed Section of the Experiment Logistics Module (ELM-ES).



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