Washington, DC - For the first time in 25 years, a new spacecraft is finished and ready to go.
The Ares 1-X rocket will be used to launch the Orion capsule in October, which will be used for manned missions when the space shuttle retires.
Standing 327 feet tall, the test rocket has been assembled on the top of a modified mobile launcher. The final step was to use a crane to hoist the simulator launch abort system tower off the floor and place it on top of the Ares I-X.
NASA will now run extensive tests on all the systems, including the set of instruments that will measure the rocket's movements as it launches and the first stage separates.
These tests will include a process called "modal testing," which will shake the stack slightly to test stiffness of the rocket including the pinned and bolted joints and make sure the rocket can handle the strain of launch and ascent. While those tests are conducted, a team of about 30 launch controllers will also practice their roles in the firing room.