While I was at Kennedy Space Center last week, some folks mentioned that the first Ares test flights are planned for 2009. That surprised me and, to be honest, I did not yet verify the information. On the other hand, Constellation (and thus Ares) has a very challenging schedule, so I would not wonder if it is try. After all, tests take time and so it makes only sense to start as early as possible.
I wonder if the public will be able to witness the first Ares flight. I guess the situation is quite different from a shuttle launch. Ares will be totally new, never before launched and as such there inherently is a much greater risk of a mishap during the first launch attempt. That risk may be too high to allow general attendance. On the other hand, NASA Causeway is over eleven miles away from launch pad 39B, where Ares will launch.
So it comes down to keep a keen eye on the potential Ares launch date. Of course, it would be very cool to view the first launch ever of a totally new vehicle. Keep reading my blog, I'll keep you informed on any news updates. And if you happen to know something, please drop me a line ;)
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