NASA renames exploration launch vehicles Ares 1 and Ares 5

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By Rob Coppinger in Orlando

NASA has today renamed its exploration vehicles, Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV) and Cargo Launch Vehicle (CaLV), after the Roman name for Mars, Ares.

The CLV, which is designed to place 25t (55,000lb) into low Earth orbit using a five-segment solid rocket booster (SRB) first stage and liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen powered second stage, will be Ares 1. The CaLV, a much larger launcher with five Rocketdyne RS-68 engines and two five segment SRBs with a proposed low Earth orbit lift capability of 125t, will be known as Ares 5.

 clvcalvresized

 Left to right: Cargo Launch Vehicle, now Ares 5, and Crew Launch Vehicle, renamed Ares 1.

Speaking at the 30 June Kennedy Space Center, STS-121/Discovery mission press conference NASA associate administrator for exploration Scott Horowitz explained that the use of the number five was too, “honour the Apollo programme’s Saturn V rocket.”

There are no plans for an Ares 2, 3 or 4, but the 4-6 person Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) is also going to be renamed.

Its new name will not be revealed for another month, probably at the upcoming Constellation programme quarterely review; to be held at NASA's Marshall Spaceflight Center in August.

The exploration directorate has been discussing up to four different CEV names and one leading name is currently being checked by the space agency’s lawyers. Names have to be checked for possible copyright infringement.

“It’s good to get away from acronyms,” Horowitz said, echoing his agency’s administrator, Michael Griffin.

At the US Space Foundation’s National Space Symposium, held in Colorado Springs in April, Griffin spoke of his wish to change the CEV’s name.