NASA will fire up its latest rocket this April for its first test flight. Ares 1 is designed to haul a 25-ton payload, making it capable of ferrying either six astronauts to the International Space Station or four astronauts to low-Earth orbit, where they can transfer to another vehicle and head to the moon. The rocket contains two stages: a reusable solid rocket booster and an engine powered by liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. If all goes well with Orion, NASA’s planned crew vehicle, Ares 1 will be whisking the first crews into space by 2015.
Read more of Popular Science’s predictions for 2009.