The engineering test flight Ares I-X took place Wednesday morning. A lot of us were excited to see it, though real Ares launches are still years off. More on that in a moment. Meanwhile, here are collections of photos:
- NASA’s set on Flickr
- Spaceflight Now’s gallery of launch photos
- Universe Today’s gallery of launch photos
- The Big Picture’s Ares gallery
The fact that Ares and the Constellation program are still years away from operational status, despite the fact that the Shuttle fleet they’re designed to replace is supposed to be retired next year, is a basic problem of resources: NASA doesn’t have the funds to develop new space hardware and use existing space hardware at the same time, and developing new space hardware doesn’t exactly happen overnight. (Consider that there was only one U.S. spaceflight between Skylab 4 in 1973-74 and STS-1 in 1981 — a period of seven years. That was the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, which used surplus Apollo hardware.) We’re in for a long drought in U.S. manned spaceflight.