Rocket that may replace the Ares conducts test flight - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Rocket that may replace the Ares conducts test flight

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By Liz Hurley - bio | email

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Friday at Cape Canaveral, it took two tries to successfully launch the Space X rocket.

This rocket could take the place of the Huntsville built Ares rockets, and could eventually transport cargo and astronauts to and from the International Space Station. The first attempt was aborted with six 100ths of a second left in the countdown.

The private company, Space Exploration Technologies, or Space-X, developed the vehicle in hopes of bringing the private sector into the U.S. Space program. That would be a possible game changer in space transportation.

The Falcon 9, a rocket privately developed by Space X of California, launched what the company hopes will become a taxi system to and from the International Space Station.

The 180 foot spacecraft carried a prototype of a capsule called Dragon that was released into orbit where it will stay for about a year. The capsule is designed to hold cargo, and eventually astronauts.

 This test flight follows the Obama Administration's move to cancel NASA's Constellation Program to build the next generation of rockets for human space flight. The administration wants to shift the business of space station transport to commercial companies that claim they can do it cheaper, sooner, and more reliably.

Critics are doubtful and say it's too risky.

"The commercial sector is still walking around like, a young kid learning to walk. They don't know what the risks are. They don't know what they don't know," said former astronaut Gene Cernan.

Since the shuttles used for the past 30 years will soon be retired, the U.S. will rely on renting space from the Russians aboard their Soyuz spacecraft to get to the space station.

Like NASA, Space X has had delays and technical problems but confidence remains high.

"I hope Space X will be one of the principal means by which NASA astronauts will go to space," said Space X CEO Elon Musk. 

If all goes well, he says a promising, and a new beginning for space travel. 

Space X CEO Elon Musk is an internet entrepreneur. He previously developed PayPal, the online payment system, and an electric sports car the Tesla.

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