NASA has finally started building (see bottom photos) a new rocket ship for the first time in 30 years to replace the soon to be de-commissioned Space Shuttle. The Ares-1X is only going to test the first stage of the rocket (see figure 1) to make sure it can actually get off the pad and not explode in a ball of flames or fly around like a balloon. The really interesting thing is that even though this rocket is only pencil thin is is still one of the tallest rockets ever flown by NASA (see figure 2) so much so they have had to beef up the lightning conductors on the launch pad.
I am hoping that the flight of this rocket really stirs up the imagination of people and makes them realise that NASA really is going to send people back to the Moon. Having never been alive during one of the Apollo Moon flights I am certainly looking forward to it happening again soon and I am already planning to take time off for the event so I can relive the adventure again for the first time.
At this stage NASA is not going to put people on top of the Ares-1 until 2015 but it will be at least 2013 before we still see another test flight of the rocket so this is not something that you will see again for a while.
Figure 1: Launch profile of Ares-1X
Figure 2: Comparison of NASA Rockets
Source at NASA: Really Taking Shape Now