Bad weather halts NASA's Mars rocket test launch

High winds and unpredictable weather derailed NASA's planned launch of its Ares I-X rocket this morning.

NASA scrubbed today's attempted launch about 11:15 a.m. after eight different liftoff opportunities had been aborted. NASA had been hoping to launch its new Ares I-X rocket, which is designed to replace the aging space shuttle fleet and eventually carry humans to Mars , between 8 a.m. and noon today.

The space agency is now looking to launch between 8 a.m. and noon on Wednesday, when there's only a 40% chance of bad weather, compared to the 60% chance today.

The rocket, designed to deliver astronauts first to the moon and then to Mars, weighs in at 1.8-million pounds and rises 327 feet high. NASA hopes the test flight will gauge the dependability and characteristics of the rocket's hardware, facilities and ground operations.

With more than 700 sensors on board, Ares I-X is wired to relay ascent data back to engineers on the ground.

The Ares I-X rocket combines technology from several different operations.

NASA reported that the rocket's four first-stage, solid-fuel booster segments come from the space shuttle program. A booster segment contains Atlas-V-based avionics, and the rocket's roll control system comes from the Peacekeeper missile. The launch abort system, simulated crew and service modules, upper stage, and various connecting structures were built specifically for the Ares I-X.

NASA has been planning to set up a lunar human outpost by 2020 and then move on to Mars.

However, the schedule, if not the mission itself, has come into some question as President Barack Obama's administration oversees an independent review of NASA's human space flight activities . With budgetary concerns in the forefront, the review is looking at possible alternatives to programs already in the pipeline.

This story, "Bad weather halts NASA's Mars rocket test launch" was originally published by Computerworld.

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