NASA Rocket May Pave Way for Moon Return

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA's newest rocket has blasted off on a test flight that may pave the way for a return to the moon.

After a one-day weather delay, the Ares I-X rocket rumbled away Wednesday morning from a former shuttle launch pad at Florida's Kennedy Space Center.

No people or payloads are on board.

The prototype moon rocket should fly for just two minutes. That's how long it will take for the first-stage booster to burn out. The booster will be recovered from the Atlantic for analysis.

The 327-foot rocket is nearly twice as tall as the spaceship it's supposed to replace, the shuttle.

It's the first step in NASA's effort to return astronauts to the moon. The White House, though, is re-evaluating the spaceflight program.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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Marcia Dunn

Marcia Dunn

AP Aerospace Writer

The Associated Press is the backbone of the world's information system serving thousands of daily newspaper, radio, television and online customers with coverage in all media and news in all formats. It is the largest and oldest news organization in the world, serving as a source of news, photos, graphics, audio and video.