NASA will try for a second time to launch the Ares 1-X and that's a shame. In my view, no good can come from the launch. No matter the technical results, we run the risk of making the wrong policy decision by conducting the launch in the midst of the White House deliberations on the Augustine Commission report.
If the suborbital test launch is successful, supporters of the multi-billion dollar program will tout the eventual success of the entire program as a done deal. And that of course is wrong. Momentum for continuation will only increase. After all, we've already spent almost half a billion dollars say supporters...how can we cancel now?
To make those calls based on one test flight is wrong. After all, the Augustine Commission found the Ares program to be in good shape for a test program--what was questioned was the need for the rocket given the expected first launch date of 2017, just when the space station is in its final years in orbit.
But the opposite possibility also troubles me. If the test launch is a failure, then the program critics will pounce. Never mind it is a test launch and many first vehicles meet an unexpected end.
Again, I don't want to see policy made because of a single test launch.
No, it is a fool's errand for NASA to conduct this launch at this time. It may well lead to a knee jerk reaction based on the technical results of a test mission.
Wrong launch. Good engineers. Good product. Bad timing.