Nasa has announced 27 October 2009 as the targeted launch date for flight testing of the moon bound Ares I-X rocket.

Nasa is developing the Ares rockets to perform manned flights to the moon, Mars and other destinations.

Ares I uses a single five-segment solid rocket booster and is powered by a liquid oxygen or liquid hydrogen J-2X engine. The rocket can lift more than 55,000lb to low Earth orbit.

With the rocket launch, Nasa will be able to test and prove hardware, facilities and ground operations, while gathering critical data for the Ares I rocket and future launch vehicles.

The stacking or assembly of the rocket on a mobile launch platform has been completed and launch countdown simulations and final checks of the rocket’s systems will be conducted this week.

A flight test readiness review is scheduled for 23 October.