Sunday, October 25, 2009

Live At KSC: Ares Forecast "A Little Bit Of A Problem"

NASA is preparing to pick up the countdown to the planned launch Tuesday of its Ares I-X rocket and a scaled-back launch team is ready to send the huge vehicle on its way.

Standing 327 feet -- or 15 stories taller than NASA's space shuttle -- the towering Ares I-X is slated to blast off at 8 a.m. Tuesday from launch pad 39B here at Kennedy Space Center. The launch window will extend until noon.

"We're not working any problems and the vehicle is in great shape, so we're looking good for Tuesday morning's launch," said NASA Test Director Jeff Spaulding.

The weather, however, could "a little bit of a problem," said Kathy Winters, a weather officer with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing Weather Squadron, which provides forecasting services for all launches from KSC and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

A warm front developing in the Western Gulf of Mexico is expected to sweep into the KSC area late Monday and early Tuesday, producing an increase in clouds and a chance of showers. NASA flight rules prohibit flying through precipitation, and the rocket also might be susceptible to a phenomenon called "triboelectrification."

A rocket flying through a cloud with precipitation and low temperatures could produce a static charge that would shroud the vehicle, blocking signals beamed to and from the rocket. That could be a problem if the rocket careened out of control and range safety destruct signals were blocked by the static charge surrounding the vehicle.

Winters said there is only a 40 percent chance that conditions will be acceptable for launch on Tuesday. The weather outlook improves for Wednesday. There is a 60 percent chance of favorable weather that day.

NASA will light up the rocket with high-power xenon floodlights at 8 p.m. Monday. The 30-member Ares I-X launch team will report to Firing Room 1 of the Launch Control Control for a Call To Stations at 12:30 a.m. Tuesday. A seven-hour countdown will pick up at 1 a.m. with countdown clocks at six hours and 40 minutes. There will be only one built-in hold -- a 20-minute hold -- at T-Minus four minutes.

ABOUT THE IMAGE: Click to enlarge the Florida Today photos of NASA's Ares I-X rocket on launch pd 39B at the Kennedy Space Center. Award-winning Florida Today photographer Michael R. Brown captured the images during a remote camera survey earlier today. Photo Credit: Michael R. Brown/Florida Today.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why is the RSS closed around Ares?