Planning is under way to produce Ares I launcher models for staging tests at Mach 6 in a windtunnel early next year. The Ares I will carry NASA's Orion crew exploration vehicle (CEV) into orbit.
The tests will take place at NASA Langley Research Center's (LARC) 508mm (20in) M6 windtunnel in Virginia. At M6.1, the Ares I solid rocket booster first stage will separate.
"The windtunnel tests are planned for early next year," says LARC systems analysis and concepts directorate's vehicle analysis branch aerospace engineer Bandu Pamadi. He has been working on staging simulation software, previously used for the Space Shuttle, but which would be used for NASA's proposed Ares boosters.