NASA rolled out a seaside launch pad in Florida today, preparing to test its first new rocket designed for manned space travel in almost 30 years. The Ares I-X is a prototype of the Ares I, which NASA hopes will power the new spacecraft that will replace the shuttle. It blasts off a week from today, Space.com reports. The $445 million rocket will be the tallest in-service booster in the world.
The Ares I-X will be unmanned, and many of its components—including the Orion spacecraft that will eventually hold a crew—are mere mock-ups designed for simulation purposes. “The Ares I-X is going to fly straight up and straight out,” said one NASA commentator. The rollout, which NASA broadcast live on NASA TV, comes just ahead of a White House review of manned space operations.