Ares V


Ares V (Ares 5) is America’s next generation launch vehicle. It will be used to launch unmanned payloads to Earth orbit and using the Earth Departure stage send spacecraft to the moon such as manned Lunar Surface Access Module and could be used for Manned Mars Missions in the future. Crew will be launched to orbit using the Ares I rocket.

Ares V Picture - Ares 5 Rocket Photo

The Ares V (Ares 5) launch vehicle will lift up heavy payloads, such as equipment and hardware to Earth orbit or trans-lunar injection, a trajectory designed to intersect with the moon. Such lift capabilities will enable NASA to carry a variety of science and exploration payloads to space and, in time, undertake crewed missions to Mars and beyond. The first crewed lunar excursion is scheduled for launch in the 2020 timeframe. Ares V is capable of boosting a 45-ton lunar lander and a rocket stage to ferry the lander and CEV to the Moon.

How the Ares V Rocket Works

 Ares 5 vs Ares I Picture
During launch of an Ares V, the reusable solid rocket boosters and core propulsion stage power the vehicle into low-Earth orbit. After separation from the spent core stage, the Earth Departure Stage J-2X engine takes over, placing the vehicle in a circular orbit. The Orion Spacecraft carrying the astronauts is delivered to space separately by the Ares I rocket, then docks with the orbiting Earth Departure Stage and its lunar module payload. Once mated, the Earth Departure Stage fires its engine to achieve “escape velocity,” the speed necessary to break free of Earth’s gravity and the lunar vessel begins its journey to the moon.

The Earth Departure Stage is jettisoned after it puts the mated crew and lunar modules on course for their lunar destination. Once the four astronauts arrive in lunar orbit, they transfer to the lunar module and descend to the moon’s surface. The crew module remains in lunar orbit until the astronauts depart from the moon in the lunar vessel, rendezvous with the crew module in orbit and return to Earth.

Ares V maybe launched from the Kennedy Space Center. The launch vehicle can carry about 287,000 pounds to low Earth orbit and 143,000 pounds to the moon.

First Stage

For its initial insertion into Earth orbit, the first stage relies on two five-segment reusable solid rocket boosters. These are derived from the space shuttle solid rocket boosters and are similar to the single booster that serves as the first stage for the cargo vehicle’s sister craft, the Ares 1 crew launch vehicle (uses 4 segments). This hardware commonality makes operations more cost effective by using the same manufacturing facilities for both the crew and cargo vehicles.

Ares V Launch Picture

The twin reusable solid rocket boosters of the cargo lifter’s first stage flank a single, liquid-fuelled central booster element, known as the core propulsion stage. Derived from the space shuttle external tank, the central booster tank delivers liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen fuel to five RS-68 rocket engines. Together, these propulsion elements comprise the Ares V’s first stage. An RS-68 engine undergoes hot-fire testing at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, during the engine’s developmental phase.

Atop the central booster element is an interstage cylinder, which includes booster separation motors and a newly designed forward adapter that mates the first stage with the second, or Earth Departure Stage.

Earth Departure Stage

The upper stage (Earth Departure Stage) being designed at Marshall, is propelled by a J-2X main engine fuelled with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. The J-2X is an evolved variation of two historic predecessors: the powerful J-2 upper-stage engine that propelled the Apollo-era Saturn 1B and Saturn V rockets to the moon and the J-2S, a simplified version of the J-2 developed and flight-tested in the early 1970s but never flown.


Anchored atop the departure stage is a composite shroud protecting the lunar surface access module, which includes the descent stage that will carry explorers to the moon’s surface and the ascent stage that will return them to lunar orbit to rendezvous with the Orion Spacecraft (Crew Exploration Vehicle) for their return home.

Ares V Team and Partners

The Ares V effort and associated element project teams are led by the Exploration Launch Projects Office at Marshall, which reports to the Constellation Program Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Constellation is a key program of NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate in Washington. ATK Thiokol of Brigham City, Utah, is the prime contractor of the reusable solid rocket boosters. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne is the prime contractor for both the J-2X upper stage engine and the RS-68 main engine.

Ares V Rocket Name

Ares name is from the Greek god of war (Mars in Roman Mythology), while the “V” pays homage to the Apollo program’s Saturn V rockets. The V may also refer to the five main engines RS-68 (previously the design was going to use five SSMEs (Space Shuttle Main Engines).


Ares V will probably use the massive crawler carriers from the Space Shuttle to move Ares rockets to and from their launch pad. The carriers were originally developed for the Apollo program to transport Saturn 5 rockets, and were later modified to carry the space shuttle launch stack.

Did you know?

* Formerly, the Ares V Rocket was called Cargo Launch Vehicle (CaLV).

* RS-68 rocket engine is currently used in the Delta IV, the largest of the Delta rocket family developed in the 1990s by the U.S. Air Force for its Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program and commercial launch applications.

Ares 5 will launch using two five-segment solid rocket boosters and a cluster of J-2X engines – one of which is used in the Ares 1 upper stage – that will be derived from the original J-2 engine used in NASA’s Apollo Moon missions.


Project Constellation Book

Project Constellation Pocket by Frank Sietzen
Buy This guide takes an in-depth look at Project Constellation, the bold new initiative designed to bring America’s space exploration program into the 21st century.

The Mighty Saturns – Saturn V (DVD)
Buy from:

This 3-DVD set features incredible footage of the story of the Saturn V. From rare footage of overcoming technological challenges in materials and techniques to stunning digital transfers of original 35mm pad camera footage – you’ll come to know the Saturn V as you’ve never known it before.

Ares V Links and References:

If you like the products in the right column, then explore our Space Shop. Browse Space MagazinesSpace BooksSpace PostersTravelCalendars, Space T-Shirts plus more!

Any comments on the Ares V (Ares 5), click on Contact Info.