NASA gives updates on work on moon rocket

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) - Top NASA executives are in Huntsville providing an update on their progress building America's next moon rocket.

Space agency officials attended a symposium Tuesday focusing on the Constellation program.

That includes the new Ares rocket system that's slated to replace the space shuttle and take astronauts back to the moon.

The head of the Ares office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Steve Cook, said the first test flight of an Ares rocket is set for next year.

The exact date isn't certain, but Cook said a test version of the spacecraft will lift off in late spring or early summer.

NASA is spending about $3 billion a year on its Constellation program, which is designed to establish a U.S. moon base and take Americans on to Mars eventually.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) AP-NY-10-21-08 1226EDT