Ares From The Air

Cool new video released of the Ares I-X test launch taken from a reconnaissance aircraft placed near the splash-down zone.

The video runs from launch through to splash-down and shows booster separation, parachute deployment and then the failure that dented the booster stage. While the dummy second stage heads farther downrange to a doomed splash-down, the booster takes a tighter arc to the recovery zone and can be seen spinning almost gracefully before the drogue parachute stabilizes its descent. At one point the booster drops to subsonic speed and a flare of vapor splays out as the pressure wave condenses the moisture around it. Moments before impact the three parachute array deploys with one parachute failing immediately.

Some might consider this test as a failure, but it is actually a perfect example of why tests are conducted. Better to happen now than when the eyes of the world are on the astronauts hanging from the Orion module during the first human splash-down in over three decades.

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