Time Magazine's Best Invention of the Year

The Ares I Rocket, Time

"TIME's best invention of the year may send Americans back to the Moon and put the first human on Mars."

Keith's note: Ares 1? There is no Ares 1. What is somewhat comical is that Time seems to think that the rocket that was launched is actually an Ares 1. It is not. Ares 1 only exists on paper and won't exist in reality for years. I guess Time magazine got carried away with all the noise and hype.

What was launched is an Ares 1-X - a one-off test article that differs in substantial ways from the real, production line, Ares 1. Ares 1-X is (was) a rocket cobbled together from pieces of old shuttle hardware, a borrowed avionics system that will not be used on the actual Ares 1, and dummy upper stages - none of which will ever fly again. Indeed, its first - and only - flight resulted in an unexpected upper stage trajectory, a parachute system malfunction, and heavy damage to its launch pad.

Moreover, the Ares 1, as currently designed, would not perform properly due to vibroacoustic and performance issues that have yet to be resolved. Indeed, its prime payload, the Orion space capsule, has had to be shrunk - twice - in both size and crew capacity - because the Ares 1 is incapable of lifting it into space as it was originally designed.

Is a "best invention" something that has yet to even be built, much less fly, one that is years behind schedule and grossly over budget, underpowered such that it cannot do what it was designed to do, with only one partial mockup in existence, half of which is on the bottom of the sea? I don't know - you tell me. Sounds a little counterintuitive.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on November 12, 2009 5:09 PM.

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