NASA released spectacular footage Monday from an aircraft stationed near the landing site of the Ares 1-X first stage booster, showing remarkable views of liftoff, the botched parachute deployment and splashdown.

Read our full story.

2045 GMT (4:45 p.m. EDT)
Two days after NASA launched a test model of its Ares 1 rocket, the flight's mission manager confirmed the first stage descended to the Atlantic Ocean on just one fully functioning parachute, damaging the booster as it splashed into the Atlantic Ocean harder than expected.

Read our full story.

1800 GMT (2:00 p.m. EDT)
Ares 1-X mission manager Bob Ess held a post-flight briefing for reporters at the Kennedy Space Center this morning to update details about the test flight, including condition of the launch pad, the dynamics seen during stage separation and issues with the descent parachutes.

It was streamed live here in the Mission Status Center. But if you missed it, the video has been archived in our Spaceflight Now Plus service.

An extensive amount of standard and high definition video covering the Ares 1-X test flight is available for Spaceflight Now Plus users. Check out a full listing here. The index of high definition video can be viewed here.

And if you are not yet a Spaceflight Now Plus subscriber, you can learn more about this service here.

1530 GMT (11:30 a.m. EDT)
Ares 1-X mission manager Bob Ess is updating reporters on the post-flight review of test launch. Watch the briefing live in our streaming video box on the righthand side of this page.
2130 GMT (5:30 p.m. EDT)
Engineers are studying a dent discovered after recovery of the first stage booster casing from Wednesday's launch of the Ares 1-X test rocket. NASA has not confirmed if all three main parachutes deployed from the rocket before it splashed into the Atlantic Ocean.

Read our full story.

1520 GMT (11:20 a.m. EDT)
NASA says there has been another leak of toxic propellant at launch pad 39B this morning after yesterday's launch of the Ares 1-X test rocket caused more damage to the complex than normal.

Today's leak involved plumbing for hydrazine fuel, a caustic substance used by the space shuttle's maneuvering jets while in space. Sensors at the pad detected concentrations of the fuel around 8:30 a.m. EDT this morning.

Leaking nitrogen tetroxide oxidizer formed a reddish-brown cloud of toxic vapors a few hours after launch yesterday.

The propellants are considered hazardous and could cause injury or death with exposure.

No injuries were reported but workers were given the option to be checked by health professionals, said NASA spokesperson George Diller.

Both leaks occurred at the 95-foot-level where the pad's fixed service structure and gantry-like rotating service structure meet, according to NASA.

"There is more damage than we customarily see after a shuttle launch," Diller said.

A team of specialists attired in self-contained protective suits have been dispatched to the pad to repair the leak. They are also checking for possible toxic vapors or contamination in fuel farms and shrubbery near the pad.

"The pad is going to be closed until they get all that done, which we expect won't be earlier than mid-afternoon," Diller said.

2135 GMT (5:35 p.m. EDT)
Amid mounting questions and debate about the future of U.S. human spaceflight, the world's tallest rocket was successfully launched Wednesday on a $445 million test flight for NASA's moon program.

Read our full story.

1953 GMT (3:53 p.m. EDT)
This photo gallery is from a camera mounted at neighboring launch pad 39A with shuttle Atlantis in the foreground.
1939 GMT (3:39 p.m. EDT)
Here is a picture from the first stage recovery ship. This photo was taken by Manny Deleon and provided by ATK.
1913 GMT (3:13 p.m. EDT)
Here is a video frame showing the cloud of toxic fumes from the nitrogen tetroxide leak at pad 39B.
1855 GMT (2:55 p.m. EDT)
There was a small leak of highly toxic nitrogen tetroxide from a flex hose at launch pad 39B after today's launch, and workers attired in special protective SCAPE suits have been dispatched to the pad to fix the problem.

The leak is in a part of the pad that was decommissioned from the space shuttle program.

Launch director Ed Mango said although some damage was expected at the complex after today's Ares 1-X launch, propellant leaks were not anticipated.

1838 GMT (2:38 p.m. EDT)
Our next gallery of images was taken from the roof of Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building.
1835 GMT (2:35 p.m. EDT)
After the press conference, Ares 1-X mission manager Bob Ess confirmed the chase plane in the recovery area observed the main parachutes deploy and the first stage is floating in the water.
1812 GMT (2:12 p.m. EDT)
Check out a collection of Ares 1-X launch images taken from the Kennedy Space Center press site.
1800 GMT (2 p.m. EDT)
In a post-launch press conference, officials are characterizing today's launch as a "spectacular success."

The dynamics at staging were unexpected but an early look at video imagery indicates the first stage and upper stage simulator likely did not contact each other after separation, said Bob Ess, Ares 1-X mission manager.

The other major question coming out of today's flight was the fate of the first stage.

Ess said radar tracked the rocket throughout its descent and it splashed down near the expected landing site. Data shows the booster ended up 17 miles from the Freedom Star recovery ship.

An on-board camera also recorded video of the drogue chute deployment.

Sailors on the vessel also reported they saw a splash of water on the horizon.

1705 GMT (1:05 p.m. EDT)
The launch of Ares 1-X is available to Spaceflight Now Plus users. Check out a full listing here. The index of high definition video can be viewed here.

And if you are not yet a Spaceflight Now Plus subscriber, you can learn more about this service here.

1640 GMT (12:40 p.m. EDT)
Spaceflight Now's Craig Covault just spoke with Jon Cowart, deputy mission managers.

There was no video confirmation of main parachute deployment, but radar tracking showed the first stage continued on the anticipated trajectory, according to Cowart.

1636 GMT (12:36 p.m. EDT)
NASA has issued the following press release on today's launch:

NASA's Ares I-X test rocket lifted off at 11:30 a.m. EDT Wednesday from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a two-minute powered flight. The test flight lasted about six minutes from its launch from the newly-modified Launch Complex 39B until splash down of the rocket's booster stage nearly 150 miles down range.

"This is a huge step forward for NASA's exploration goals," said Doug Cooke, associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Ares I-X provides NASA with an enormous amount of data that will be used to improve the design and safety of the next generation of American spaceflight vehicles -- vehicles that could again take humans beyond low Earth orbit."

The 327-foot tall Ares I-X test vehicle produced 2.6 million pounds of thrust to accelerate the rocket to nearly 3 g's and Mach 4.76, just shy of hypersonic speed. It capped its easterly flight at a sub-orbital altitude of 150,000 feet after the separation of its first stage, a four-segment solid rocket booster.

Parachutes deployed for recovery of the booster and the solid rocket motor will be recovered at sea for later inspection. The simulated upper stage, Orion crew module, and launch abort system will not be recovered.

"The most valuable learning is through experience and observation," said Bob Ess, Ares I-X mission manager. "Tests such as this -- from paper to flight -- are vital in gaining a deeper understanding of the vehicle, from design to development."

Wednesday's flight offered an early opportunity to test and prove hardware, facilities, and ground operations - important data for future space vehicles. During the flight, a range of performance data was relayed to the ground and also stored in the onboard flight data recorder. The 700 sensors mounted on the vehicle provide flight test engineering data to correlate with computer models and analysis. The rocket's sensors gathered information in several areas, including assembly and launch operations, separation of the vehicle's first and second stages, controllability and aerodynamics, the re-entry and recovery of the first stage and new vehicle design techniques.

The Ares I-X efforts are led by the Ares I-X mission management office of the Constellation Program, based at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, and NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate in Washington. NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland designed and built the vehicle's upper stage mass simulator. NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., provided aerodynamic characterization, flight test vehicle integration and the crew module/launch abort system mass simulator. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., with contractor support, provided management for the development of Ares I-X avionics, roll control, and first stage systems. The Kennedy Space Center provided operations and associated ground activities and launch operations.

Contractors for Ares I-X include Alliant Techsystems, or ATK, of Salt Lake City for the first stage solid rocket booster and Teledyne Brown Engineering of Huntsville for the roll control system. Jacobs Engineering of Tullahoma, Tenn., supported by Lockheed Martin of Denver, provided the avionics systems. United Space Alliance of Houston and ATK Launch Systems support the ground systems and launch operations.

1630 GMT (12:30 p.m. EDT)
One hour after launch, we know the rocket lifted off and stayed on track through stage separation, which occurred on time. We are waiting to learn if the staging dynamics were as expected and if the parachutes worked as designed.
1628 GMT (12:28 p.m. EDT)
The first stage booster landed about 17 miles from Freedom Star, near the expected splashdown site, according to an ATK spokesperson. But there is still no confirmation of how the chutes worked.
1617 GMT (12:17 p.m. EDT)
NASA launch commentator George Diller says there will be a press conference at 1:30 p.m. EDT to confirm what occurred with parachute deployment. There is still a lack of formal information on recovery.
1606 GMT (12:06 p.m. EDT)
There is still no official confirmation of how the main parachutes performed during the recovery sequence of today's launch.

Spokespersons from NASA and ATK were not able to confirm whether the chutes work. United Space Alliance is still checking.

The trio of 150-foot-wide parachutes have never been used in flight before today.

1559 GMT (11:59 a.m. EDT)
A press conference is planned about two hours after launch for officials to discuss the initial results and their impressions of today's historic launch.
1556 GMT (11:56 a.m. EDT)
There have been no clear updates on what happened to the first stage other than a posting on NASA's official Twitter account: "Ships have spotted the Ares I-X booster and are steaming toward it."
1546 GMT (11:46 a.m. EDT)
Stage separation looked different than NASA animations showed before launch. It is unclear if this is a problem or if that event occurred as designed.
1543 GMT (11:43 a.m. EDT)
Recovery ships have spotted the first stage descending under parachutes and observed splashdown, according to NASA.
1541 GMT (11:41 a.m. EDT)
After a spectacular launch from the Kennedy Space Center, the Ares 1-X test rocket flew east from the oceanfront pad and climbed to an altitude of an estimated 29 miles. After staging, the first stage was to deploy parachutes and splash into the ocean for recovery.
1538 GMT (11:38 a.m. EDT)
Officials are still awaiting word on the status of the first stage, which was supposed to parachute into the ocean and be retrieved a recovery ship.
1537 GMT (11:37 a.m. EDT)
Downrange ships have confirmed the upper stage simulator as impacted the ocean.
1536:30 GMT (11:36:30 a.m. EDT)
No telemetry is being received from the rocket, but the first stage should be under the main parachute at this time.
1535:00 GMT (11:35:00 a.m. EDT)
"Not too much to report, the vehicle is definitely returning to the Earth at this time," says Marc Lavigne, telemetry commentator.
1534:30 GMT (11:34:30 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 4 minutes, 30 seconds. In the next two minutes, the first stage will deploy its parachutes and splash down in the Atlantic Ocean about 147 miles due east of Cape Canaveral.

The rocket will deploy its pilot and drogue chute about 45 seconds from now. Its three main parachutes, each about 150 feet in diameter, will be unfurled at T+plus 5 minutes, 42 seconds. Splashdown is expected at T+plus 6 minutes, 9 seconds.

1533:30 GMT (11:33:30 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 3 minutes, 30 seconds. Today's Ares 1-X test flight has so far seemed to have gone well, but it will take months before engineers have a full understanding of how the rocket performed.
1532:45 GMT (11:32:45 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 2 minutes, 45 seconds. The first stage booster should now have reached its maximum altitude and begun its descent.
1532:10 GMT (11:32:10 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 2 minutes, 10 seconds. STAGE SEPARATION! The first stage appears to have separated properly and will continue coasting upward to an altitude of 153,000 feet before beginning its descent.

The top part of the Ares 1-X rocket, called the upper stage and Orion crew module simulator, will continue on an uncontrolled trajectory and crash into the Atlantic Ocean. It will not be recovered.

1531:00 GMT (11:31:00 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 1 minute. The rocket is now experiencing its most intense loading in a region of flight known as maximum dynamic pressure, or Max-Q. Engineers predicted Ares 1-X would experience loads of 865 pounds per square foot during the part of the launch.
1530:40 GMT (11:30:40 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 40 seconds. Ares 1-X has surpassed the speed of sound as it barrels into the sky on 3.3 million pounds of thrust.
1530:15 GMT (11:30:15 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 15 seconds. The 327-foot-tall rocket has cleared the launch pad tower and is now in its roll and pitch programs as it flies due east from the Kennedy Space Center.
1530:00 GMT (11:30:00 a.m. EDT)
LIFTOFF! Liftoff of the Ares 1-X rocket, a one-of-a-kind testbed for NASA's ambition to return to the moon!
1529:35 GMT (11:29:35 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 25 seconds. The first stage steering system is being powered on and tested.
1529:15 GMT (11:29:15 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 45 seconds. The first stage booster joint heaters are being turned off.
1529:00 GMT (11:29:00 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 60 seconds. The flight control system has been put in "launch enable" and internal power mode. The ground launch sequencer countdown has also started.

Activities inside the T-minus 1 minute mark include disabling the solid rocket motor joint heaters and switching the inertial navigation unit to navigation mode.

The first stage auxiliary power unit will be powered up at T-minus 28 seconds. This device drives the rocket's thrust vector control steering system.

The first stage thrust vector control system will become active and put the solid rocket motor nozzle through a gimbal steering check at T-minus 21 seconds. The ignition and hold-down post pyros will be armed at T-minus 18 seconds.

Hundreds of thousands of gallons of water from the sound suppression system will be be dumped on the pad beginning at T-minus 16 seconds. The command receiver and decoder system will be uninhibited at T-minus 10 seconds to put the flight termination system in launch mode.

Solid rocket motor ignition will occur as clocks reach zero, followed less than one-quarter second later by liftoff. It will take approximately 6 seconds for Ares 1-X to clear the tower at pad 39B.

1528:00 GMT (11:28:00 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 2 minutes. Soon the Ares 1-X vehicle will be transitioned to internal power and instrumentation data recorders will be turned on.
1527:30 GMT (11:27:30 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 2 minutes, 30 seconds. Today's launch will be the first time since 1975 that a vehicle other than the space shuttle has launched from one of the Kennedy Space Center's main launch pads.

It will also be the first launch from pad 39B since December 2006.

1527:00 GMT (11:27:00 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 3 minutes. Fans cooling electronics inside the upper stage simulator and the first stage avionics module are being deactivated.
1526:30 GMT (11:26:30 a.m. EDT)
The first stage safe-and-arm device is being rotated to the "arm" position.
1526:00 GMT (11:26:00 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 4 minutes and counting. The countdown has picked up for the last few minutes before the launch of the $445 million Ares 1-X test flight from Kennedy Space Center.
1525 GMT (11:25 a.m. EDT)
If a problem develops after the countdown resumes, the count will be recycled to T-minus 4 minutes and holding.

Launch test director Jeff Spaulding offered this description:

"One other thing that's a little bit different than what we've done here for quite a while is that if we get after T-minus 4 minutes and counting, if we have any kind of an issue at that point and we need to stop, we can actually recycle back to four minutes and make additional attempts in that 4-hour window if we clear that nonconformance or issue that we had. So there are opportunities for multiple launch attempts potentially throughout that window if we're able to solve whatever problem stopped us."

1524 GMT (11:24 a.m. EDT)
When the countdown clock resumes, there will be a fast-paced series of events to finish readying the Ares 1-X test rocket for launch. The timeline is similar to the Atlas 5 rocket's terminal countdown because Ares 1-X uses that rocket's avionics system.

"Terminal count in this case is very similar to what we would do on an Atlas 5. We basically do last-minute checks with the flight computer and with the way we're talking to all the different boxes in the flight control system," said Ed Mango, Ares 1-X launch director.

"The last four minutes are similar to a shuttle last nine minutes in terms of there shouldn't be any activity the Launch Authority Team needs to worry about. During that time, the firing team has it, they have the procedures, they have the preplans to execute the procedure. If we get into a scrub and we don't fly at that moment, because we have a four-hour launch window ... it provides us an opportunity to actually turn around a launch attempt and try to launch again that same day," Mango said.

The solid rocket motor and flight termination system's safe-and-arm devices will be rotated to the "armed" position about 30 seconds after the countdown resumes.

Cooling fans inside the upper stage simulator and first stage avionics module will be terminated at T-minus 3 minutes.

The launch vehicle will switch to internal battery power at T-minus 1 minute, 59 seconds. Five seconds later, on-board data recorders will begin collecting data from the more than 700 sensors scattered across the rocket.

The flight control system will be commanded to "launch enable" at T-minus 1 minute, 40 seconds. The system will be told to go to internal power at T-minus 1 minute, 20 seconds.

The countdown sequencer will also start at T-minus 1 minute, 20 seconds.

1522 GMT (11:22 a.m. EDT)
The Range just gave NASA the final clear to launch.
1521 GMT (11:21 a.m. EDT)
"You have a go to proceed for this flight test," launch director Ed Mango just told the team.
1521 GMT (11:21 a.m. EDT)
Weather has just gone "green" for triboelectrification.
1519 GMT (11:19 a.m. EDT)
"I know we're slicing this extremely thin," says Jeff Spaulding, launch test director.
1514 GMT (11:14 a.m. EDT)
Today's weather is shaping up to be very similar to yesterday's, with ever-changing conditions that are sliding between "go" and no go."
1511 GMT (11:11 a.m. EDT)
NEW LAUNCH TIME. Liftoff will now occur at 11:30 a.m. EDT, at the earliest.

The weather could clear in about eight minutes, according to aircraft reports.

1502 GMT (11:02 a.m. EDT)
NEW LAUNCH TIME. Clocks are being reset to target a launch time of 11:20 a.m. EDT.
1500 GMT (11:00 a.m. EDT)
Weather will not be "go" for launch in time to support the 11:08 a.m. EDT liftoff time.
1455 GMT (10:55 a.m. EDT)
"It looks like we're not going to make T-zero, there just hasn't been enough time for new data," says Kathy Winters, launch weather officer.
1454 GMT (10:54 a.m. EDT)
NEW LAUNCH TIME. Officials have set a new launch time of 11:08 a.m. EDT. There could be a break in the weather then, but the situation is "dynamic," says launch weather officer Kathy Winters.
1450 GMT (10:50 a.m. EDT)
Launch test director Jeff Spaulding and launch director Ed Mango just affirmed their teams are ready for launch, except for weather.
1446 GMT (10:46 a.m. EDT)
The triboelectrification rule is now "no go" for launch.
1444 GMT (10:44 a.m. EDT)
"We're not out of the woods yet," launch commentator George Diller just said. Meteorologists are watching clouds that could impinge near the flight path at launch time.
1440 GMT (10:40 a.m. EDT)
Launch director Ed Mango just polled the Launch Authority Team and concluded there were no constraints to launch.
1434 GMT (10:34 a.m. EDT)
All weather rules are "go" for launch at this time.
1432 GMT (10:32 a.m. EDT)
Systems engineers being polled report they are ready to resume the countdown, if weather allows.
1430 GMT (10:30 a.m. EDT)
Launch controllers are still discussing the triboelectrification rule, including whether the Ares 1-X vehicle meets the requirements for triboelectrification, says George Diller, NASA launch commentator.

Rockets can be "treated" for surface electrification if the surface resistivity is less than 10^9 ohms/square and all conductors on surfaces are bonded to the vehicle by a resistance that is less than 10^5 ohms, according to information distributed by NASA.

A rocket can also be considered "treated "if it has been shown by test or analysis that electrostatic discharges on the surface of the vehicle caused by triboelectrification by precipitation particle impact will not be hazardous to the launch vehicle or the mission," according to NASA.

1420 GMT (10:20 a.m. EDT)
Now 40 minutes from the latest appointed launch time for Ares 1-X at 11 a.m. EDT.

Low-level cumulus clouds have begun rolling into the Kennedy Space Center area over the past few minutes. The threat of breaking the precipitation and cumulus cloud rules will increase over the remainder of today's launch window, but the triboelectrification conditions are expected to diminish.

1354 GMT (9:54 a.m. EDT)
NEW LAUNCH TIME. The Eastern Range has informed the launch team the earliest possible liftoff time would be 11 a.m. EDT.

The triboelectrification rule continues to be violated, and there is a 60 percent chance the constraint will remain out of limits between now and 10:30 a.m. EDT, according to weather officials.

Those odds decrease to a 20 percent probability of breaking the triboelectrification rule after 10:45 a.m. EDT, so the weather situation may improve.

1350 GMT (9:50 a.m. EDT)
The countdown voice loops have fallen silent as the waiting game for weather continues.
1340 GMT (9:40 a.m. EDT)
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1318 GMT (9:18 a.m. EDT)
Jon Cowart, deputy mission manager, says the countdown will stay paused until the weather situation improves.

It is a beautiful morning here at the Kennedy Space Center with just a transparent layer of high level cirrus clouds, but that is all it takes to violate the triboelectrification rule.

"They've got the weather aircraft out there trying to find an opening to get past our good friend triboelectrification," Cowart said.

All of the rocket's systems have been checked out following the lightning storm overnight. The nearest hit to the pad was 700 yards away and the electric field just reached 20 percent of what the rocket can withstand. "We are essentially just in a hold position waiting for the weather to let us go," Cowart said.

1310 GMT (9:10 a.m. EDT)
NEW LAUNCH TIME. The earliest Ares 1-X can launch today is 10:30 a.m. EDT, according to Jon Cowart, the deputy mission manager.
1303 GMT (9:03 a.m. EDT)
The hold at T-minus 4 minutes will probably be extended further, passing up the 9:15 a.m. EDT launch time. All technical issues have been resolved and the only hurdle left is weather, which is still "no go."
1256 GMT (8:56 a.m. EDT)
The Launch Authority Team has issued a waiver for two "non-conformances" from the overnight thunderstorm.
1250 GMT (8:50 a.m. EDT)
The two open technical issues are the retests after last night's lightning storm and the low torque levels noted on the first stage avionics module door. The Launch Authority Team continues to discuss these concerns.

As expected, weather is also a major factor this morning.

1245 GMT (8:45 a.m. EDT)
Flight Termination System closed-loop testing has wrapped up. This system would be used by the Air Force to destroy the rocket if it flew off course.
1243 GMT (8:43 a.m. EDT)
Weather may not improve until after the current 9:15 a.m. launch time, according to launch commentator George Diller.
1240 GMT (8:40 a.m. EDT)
The Freedom Star, one of NASA's two booster recovery ships, is now planning to retrieve the first stage booster. Both Freedom Star and Liberty Star are on station off the Florida coast to track the flight.
1230 GMT (8:30 a.m. EDT)
Testing of the ignition system and firing chain has been completed.
1230 GMT (8:30 a.m. EDT)
Testing of the ignition system and firing chain has been completed.
1225 GMT (8:25 a.m. EDT)
The Launch Authority Team, composed of senior Ares managers, is discussing the results of this morning's retests ordered after lightning strikes near the pad overnight.
1220 GMT (8:20 a.m. EDT)
NEW LAUNCH TIME. 9:15 a.m. EDT is now the expected liftoff time for Ares 1-X.
1216 GMT (8:16 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 4 minutes and holding. Before the countdown is allowed to resume from this hold, the launch weather officer will report the latest weather conditions to the launch team. The Air Force's Eastern Range will also be verified clear for launch.

Jeff Spaulding, the launch test conductor, will poll the prime launch team inside Firing Room 1 to determine their readiness to proceed. Then Ed Mango, Ares 1-X launch director, will consult with the Launch Authority Team to verify they are prepared to enter the terminal countdown and launch.

Ed Mango provided this overview of activities during the hold:

"At T-minus 4 minutes, we'll take a poll of the Launch Authority Team. The Launch Authority Team is similar to the Mission Management Team on shuttle for its launch, really have the folks that are related to the hardware itself. That would be Bob Ess and his folks, being mission manager, and then the Constellation program led by Jeff Hanley, and he has a number of representatives that are also part of that Launch Authority Team advising him on whether we're ready to go fly that day or not."

"There's also engineering and safety people that are part of the Launch Authority Team. I will call on each of those folks during the poll, and then I hand it over to Jeff (Hanley) and ask him based on everything he's heard, if he's ready to go. I'll turn around and tell the launch team at this point we're ready to proceed."

1213 GMT (8:13 a.m. EDT)
Some fun facts for this morning's launch:
1209 GMT (8:09 a.m. EDT)
Instrumentation recorders are now turned on.
1206 GMT (8:06 a.m. EDT)
The blast danger area has been cleared, so the pyro initiator controller in the ignition system is being tested.
1202 GMT (8:02 a.m. EDT)
The final members of the pad team are preparing to depart the complex and clear the launch danger area.
1157 GMT (7:57 a.m. EDT)
The gaseous nitrogen purge to the first stage aft skirt has been turned on.
1155 GMT (7:55 a.m. EDT)
The NASA launch commentator says they still expect launch to be no earlier than 9 a.m. EDT.
1152 GMT (7:52 a.m. EDT)
NEW LAUNCH TIME. The launch team has officially set a new launch time of 8:30 a.m. EDT, but preparations could take longer.
1149 GMT (7:49 a.m. EDT)
As engineers wrap up their retests, the launch team is evaluating the weather to determine when an opening might be.

The concern with triboelectrification is based on the potential that friction between the rocket and precipitation particles in clouds could create a field of static electricity. That static could disrupt communications with the rocket, including the ability of Range Safety to destroy the vehicle in the event of a mishap.

1136 GMT (7:36 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 4 minutes and holding. The countdown has entered the final planned hold point prior to liftoff. The pause was scheduled to last 20 minutes. However, the hold will be extended an hour or more while the launch team catches up from delays earlier in the countdown related to the systems retesting after last night's lightning strikes near the pad.
1128 GMT (7:28 a.m. EDT)
The triboelectrification weather rule is still "no go" at the moment, but meteorologists are watching a clearing west of the launch site. Teams are discussing if the rocket will be ready for liftoff when the clear weather arrives.
1120 GMT (7:20 a.m. EDT)
The rotating service structure is now in park position.
1117 GMT (7:17 a.m. EDT)
The auxiliary power unit bite test and soak has been completed. The C-band beacon has also been powered up for its testing.
1115 GMT (7:15 a.m. EDT)
After liftoff, Ares 1-X will fly a trajectory specifically designed to mimic the launch environments the operational Ares 1 rocket would encounter.

It will take six seconds for the rocket to clear the launch pad, after which the roll control system will be activated to begin a 90-degree roll program. The system was borrowed from the military's Peacekeeper missile program and will fire intermittently to keep the rocket in its roll envelope.

"There was a lot of talk, especially early on, about how much roll this booster will actually impart," said Bob Ess, Ares 1-X mission manager.

Thrust variability and aerodynamic forces caused by protuberances on the vehicle could impart roll forces.

"We have a very strong roll control system on board, so we're very confident that whatever we get we'll be able to control it," Ess said.

Four programmed test inputs, or PTIs, are planned during the two minutes of powered flight to test the rocket's reaction to small maneuvers.

The maneuvers "basically move it one way, move it to center, move it the other way and move it back," Ess said. "That sinusoidal input should make the vehicle move a little bit and we'll pick that up on our sensors. We'll see it probably during our post-flight analysis a couple weeks later. It probably won't be visible to you as you watch it on TV."

The first PTI will begin at T+plus 34 seconds and deflect the first stage nozzle by about 0.12 degrees for 10 seconds.

Ares 1-X will surpass Mach 1 just under 40 seconds after liftoff and reach maximum dynamic pressure at T+plus 1 minute.

Another PTI will move the motor nozzle by 0.12 degrees for 10 seconds starting at T+plus 55 seconds.

The two final test maneuvers will occur at T+plus 75 seconds and T+plus 94 seconds, when the rocket nozzle will move 0.35 degrees back and forth, then impart a yaw input by moving 1 degree.

Burnout and stage separation should take place beginning at about T+2 minutes.

The flight will end about six minutes after liftoff with a parachuted splashdown of the first stage 147 miles east of Cape Canaveral. The upper stage simulator will be destroyed when it makes an uncontrolled impact into the Atlantic Ocean.

1112 GMT (7:12 a.m. EDT)
The recovery ships Liberty Star and Freedom Star are both on station east of Cape Canaveral. Liberty Star will retrieve the first stage after it parachutes into the sea 144 miles downrange from KSC. Freedom Star will use its radar to track the trajectory of the dummy upper part of the rocket as it plunges into the Atlantic Ocean.
1109 GMT (7:09 a.m. EDT)
Teams report the vehicle stabilization system has been fully disconnected.
1108 GMT (7:08 a.m. EDT)
The C-band beacon activation and checkout is starting.
1106 GMT (7:06 a.m. EDT)
The auxiliary power unit bite test and soak procedure are about to get underway.
1105 GMT (7:05 a.m. EDT)
Launch commentator George Diller says liftoff is still expected at 9 a.m. or 9:15 a.m. EDT.
1104 GMT (7:04 a.m. EDT)
Both arms of the vehicle stabilization system are now moving away from the rocket.
1102 GMT (7:02 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 38 minutes and counting. Now that the rotating service structure has moved far enough back from the rocket, the TEL-4 tracking station at Cape Canaveral will begin to align its antenna with transmitters on the vehicle.
1057 GMT (6:57 a.m. EDT)
There is also some encouraging news on the status of the 5-hole probe at the tip of the rocket. The sensor package was exposed to heavy rains overnight and the water could interfere with readings from the instruments, but officials think the probe is working good enough to fly.
1054 GMT (6:54 a.m. EDT)
As the gantry swings away from the rocket, workers are starting to disconnect the vehicle stabilization system.

The vehicle stabilization system was added between the 200- and 260-foot levels of the pad's fixed service structure. The system, fitted shock absorbers, acts as a wind damper to help Ares 1-X withstand higher winds at the pad. The VSS can be disconnected in up to 30-knot winds.

"It's really not a rotation back like an arm or anything," said Ed Mango, Ares 1-X launch director. "It disconnects and then we just move back a small section of the last piece that connects to the vehicle."

"We've got quite a few folks working at the pad doing quite a few different things pretty late," Spaulding said. "So we'll be tracking those and it's a little bit different that what we've done previously. It's really based on the fact that our purges are the only active cooling on the vehicle, so we'll be disconnecting those pretty late."

1050 GMT (6:50 a.m. EDT)
The rotating service structure is now being retracted away from the rocket. Also, the development flight instrumentation on the vehicle have passed retests after lightning last night.
1044 GMT (6:44 a.m. EDT)
The triboelectrification rule just went "red."
1042 GMT (6:42 a.m. EDT)
An alignment test of the Ares 1-X fault tolerant inertial navigation unit is completed.
1039 GMT (6:39 a.m. EDT)
Launch weather officer reports all the rules are still "green" and winds are expected to remain favorable throughout the window. But meteorologists are watching incoming clouds that could violate the triboelectrification rule.
1035 GMT (6:35 a.m. EDT)
Jon Cowart, Ares 1-X deputy mission manager, provided this overview of the flight:

"First thing that happens is we blow the hold down bolts that are holding it to the ground. There are four big bolts that hold this vehicle down and when those release, the command is sent to ignite the solid rocket booster. Just like on a shuttle, it goes from zero to three million pounds of thrust in less then half a second, then it's giong to jump off the pad."

"Those lightning tower we have back there, it'll clear those in about seven or eight seconds. Thirty-nine seconds after T-zero it goes supersonic. To me, that's phenomenal. You see 1.8 million pounds going supersonic in 39 seconds. You'll see it arcing off to the east. You see the shuttle on a lot of their flights, they go up and then head for the northeast because they're going towards the International Space Station."

"We have a separation that occurs just beneath the frustrum and then the deceleration motors will fire, which will slow the first stage down a little bit and then we'll fire some tumble motors to get it spinning. We need that to happen so the parachutes will properly deploy."

"The upper stage continues on like a giant lawn dart and it's going to hit the water about 140 miles out going a pretty good clip."

For a complete overview of the flight, see our launch timeline.

1031 GMT (6:31 a.m. EDT)
The panel at the purge port on the first stage avionics module has been bolted in place after earlier concerns over torquing.
1018 GMT (6:18 a.m. EDT)
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1016 GMT (6:16 a.m. EDT)
Workers are discussing preparations to move the rotating service structure, so that retraction could begin soon.
1014 GMT (6:14 a.m. EDT)
First stage prime contractor ATK reports they are getting comfortable with the torquing on the avionics module access door.
1000 GMT (6:00 a.m. EDT)
Our live webcast with Miles O'Brien, David Waters and Leroy Chiao is on the air.
0959 GMT (5:59 a.m. EDT)
The delay in this morning's countdown is due to bad weather that rolled through Kennedy Space Center last night.

"Ares 1-X has been a struggle all along, and last night's weather was no different," said Jon Cowart, the deputy mission manager.

Sensors detected 154 lightning strikes within five miles of the launch pad, including several hits inside a 0.6-mile radius. Strikes that close to the pad force engineers to conduct comprehensive functional tests of all the rocket's systems to make sure they still work.

Cowart said there were no hits on the pad itself.

Engineers have powered up all four electrical buses on the rocket and are analyzing the performance of the power channels. The work is being done in concert with normal countdown activities.

Another item of interest is the status of the 5-hole probe, a suite of instruments positioned at the very tip of the 327-foot-tall rocket. The package collects data on velocity and angle-of-attack during the launch, giving engineers a control measurement to compare against other instruments.

Rain at the pad overnight will likely degrade the data from the 5-hole probe. It was covered with a sock-like shield, but that cover was removed from the rocket during yesterday's countdown. It can't be put back on the sensors at the launch pad, leaving the instruments exposed.

A spare probe was positioned on top of the pad last night and is now being analyzed to characterize the performance of the instruments with water in them.

A final issue is the torquing problem on a door to the first stage avionics module. The launch team could become comfortable with the lower torque in bolts holding the door in place, or technicians may be asked to replace a nut plate on the panel.

0949 GMT (5:49 a.m. EDT)
Liftoff is now expected no earlier than 8:45 a.m. EDT, but more likely around 9 a.m., according to Jon Cowart, Ares 1-X deputy mission manager.
0940 GMT (5:40 a.m. EDT)
No problems have been detected in the retesting so far.
0937 GMT (5:37 a.m. EDT)
All weather rules are still "green" for launch.

The forecast still calls for a 60 percent chance of weather violating launch constraints. There will be scattered clouds at 3,000 feet and 8,000 feet, plus a broken deck of clouds at 25,000 feet, according to the forecast.

The temperature is expected to be between 75 degrees and 83 degrees Fahrenheit and ground winds are predicted to be less than the 20-knot limit.

The outlooks for Thursday and Friday both call for a 40 percent chance of weather keeping the rocket on the ground.

0934 GMT (5:34 a.m. EDT)
The upper stage access arm is being moved away from the rocket.
0929 GMT (5:29 a.m. EDT)
Teams are discussing an issue with torquing one of the access doors on the rocket.

Meanwhile, engineers are retesting the more than 700 sensors on the rocket and are preparing to retract the upper stage access arm. The move of the rotating service structure is now expected to be about an hour from now.

0913 GMT (5:13 a.m. EDT)
The upper stage purge port flight door has been installed.
0908 GMT (5:08 a.m. EDT)
The retesting is being conducted in parallel with routine activities to close out the rocket and remove access platforms.
0905 GMT (5:05 a.m. EDT)
Retraction of the rotating service structure is now expected ro begin around 6 a.m. EDT this morning. The upper stage access arm is now planned to move away from the rocket by about 5:45 a.m. EDT.
0903 GMT (5:03 a.m. EDT)
Liftoff will be delayed until 8:15 a.m. or 8:30 a.m. EDT because engineers are methodically powering up the rocket and retesting systems to ensure they are healthy after lightning strikes very close to the launch pad overnight.

High level clouds are being closely monitored again this morning to make sure they are acceptable under the triboelectrification rule.

0847 GMT (4:47 a.m. EDT)
The timeline calls for the gantry-like rotating service structure to be retracted around 5:25 a.m. EDT. Yesterday's countdown as about an hour behind, so the move did not begin until after 6:30 a.m. EDT.
0839 GMT (4:39 a.m. EDT)
Workers at the pad are removing environmental control purges from the upper stage simulator and first stage avionics module. These ducts provide cooling and air conditioning to sensitive avionics in the upper and lower parts of the rocket.

Once the purges are removed, technicians will install flight doors over the purge ports.

0833 GMT (4:33 a.m. EDT)
Weather forecasters have downgraded the outlook for today's launch attempt and are now calling for a 60 percent chance of unfavorable conditions. A line of heavy showers also pushed through the area, bringing rain and lightning near the launch pad last night.
0815 GMT (4:15 a.m. EDT)
The Launch Authority Team is now on console inside Firing Room 1 of the Launch Control Center. This team includes launch director Ed Mango, Constellation program manager Jeff Hanley, and Ares 1-X mission manager Bob Ess.

The Prime Launch Team, led by test conductor Jeff Spaulding, has been managing the countdown since they arrived on station at 12:30 a.m. EDT this morning. A support team of engineers is located in Hangar AE at nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

All weather rules are currently "go" for launch.

0700 GMT (3:00 a.m. EDT)
Launch is now five hours away. There is a 40 percent chance weather this morning could prohibit launch, mainly due to concerns about a rule called triboelectrification.

The triboelectrification rule was an ever-present concern during yesterday's launch attempt, toggling from "go" to "no go" throughout the launch window. The launch team tried to find clearings in the clouds through which to launch, but the weather ended up to be too challenging.

The concern is the rocket would build up static electricity as it flies through high level clouds containing ice or precipitation above the -10 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit) line in the atmosphere up to the point where the vehicle's velocity reaches 3,000 feet per second.

The static, also called P-static, could disrupt communications to and from the vehicle, especially including the Range Safety restruct command link that would be used in the event of a mishap.

"If there is a high broken cloud ceiling (5/8 coverage or greater) this rule may apply. The weather reconnaissance aircraft will determine if the Ares 1-X flight path is clear of clouds for which there is a concern," says a NASA fact sheet.

The triboelectrification rule does not apply to space shuttle launches. Ares 1-X is not "treated" for surface electrification.

The most recent official weather report from the Shuttle Landing Facility showed a few clouds at 2,400 feet, a few clouds at 13,000 feet, and a broken deck at 24,000 feet.

0520 GMT (1:20 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 6 hours, 20 minutes and counting.

The launch team has convened and the countdown for the launch of Ares 1-X has restarted.

Today's launch attempt comes a day after the countdown was scrubbed, primarily because of constantly changing weather conditions at the Cape.

Weighing 1.8 million pounds, the booster includes a four-segment solid-fueled first stage from the space shuttle program. Engineers built an inert fifth segment filled with avionics systems from the Atlas 5 rocket.

The upper stage and Orion crew module simulators were built by NASA's Glenn Research Center and Langley Research Center, respectively.

"This vehicle is very unique," said Ed Mango, Ares 1-X launch director. "It has shuttle components. It has Atlas components. It has some old Air Force components. And it has some new stuff that was built by NASA."

Controllers should now be preparing to power up the rocket's systems, including flight instrumentation, ground support equipment and vehicle systems.

Launch director Ed Mango and test director Jeff Spaulding gave reporters an overview of the countdown.

"It starts about seven hours before liftoff when we power up the vehicle for countdown day," Mango said. "And then we do a number of (navigation) checks and those kind of things similar to what you would do on any vehicle to make sure your guidance and navigation system is all good to go."

"The first thing that we'll be doing is coming in and powering up the vehicle, doing some of the checkouts and the alignments of the navigational systems. From that point forward, some of the major events will be happening at the pad in disconnecting some of our purges. We have two major purges we'll be disconnecting, one on the upper stage and one on the first stage avionics module. We'll be disconnecting those around 4 in the morning or so on (Wednesday)," Spaulding said.

For a complete overview of the launch countdown, see our comprehensive timeline.

Read our earlier status center coverage.