On Wednesday, October 28th, NASA launched its Ares I-X prototype vehicle, the first launch from Kennedy's pads of a vehicle other than the space shuttle since the Apollo Program's Saturn rockets were retired. NASA's Constellation Program's 327-foot-tall rocket produced 2.96 million pounds of thrust at liftoff and reached a speed of 100 mph in eight seconds. The two-minute sub-orbital test flight encountered a few problems along the way, as the launch pad was slightly damaged, a planned stage separation did not go quite according to plan, and a possible parachute failure led to a hard splashdown for its first stage. The Constellation program is under pressure as a recent committee report depicted it as overly expensive. The Obama administration is set to make a decision in the next several months about the near-term direction of U.S. Space Policy.
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