A Heavy Comparison: At approximately 14 feet in average diameter and 320 feet long, Ares I-X has a high "slenderness ratio" compared to other launch vehicles. The similarly-shaped Delta IV, for instance, is about 17 feet in average diameter and 225 feet long. The Saturn V was about 33 feet in average diameter and 363 feet in length. Image Credit: NASA
A critical series of ground tests are scheduled to begin this week at NASA's Kennedy Space Center to confirm that Ares I-X, the precursor to NASA's next generation launch vehicle, will behave as predicted as it lifts off the pad and powers through the initial stage of flight in a demonstration flight later this year.
Computer analytical models developed by the agency have predicted how the Ares I-X will behave when launched. The upcoming ground tests will validate those vehicle models that were used to derive the flight control parameters by comparing test data with the predicted vehicle flight behavior.
Called "modal survey testing," the tests include two partial stack tests and a test of the full Ares I-X vehicle on the Mobile Launch Platform that are located in Kennedy's Vehicle Assembly Building. The first partial stack test will involve only the top part of the vehicle that includes the launch abort tower, crew module, service module and spacecraft adaptor. The second partial stack test is composed of the interstage, frustum and simulated fifth segment of the first stage of the rocket.
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