From the Orlando Sentinel: The astronaut office is rumoured to be unhappy with design of the Ares 1. A solid-powered first stage can not be turned off or even throttled. Wehrner Von braun did not trust solids for crewed vehicles. The "stick" has vibration problems that would require isolation machinery for the crew. Poor performance has led to cutting things like the ability to recover on land. The problems have led to consideration of a new crew launch vehicle with two 4-segment boosters flanking a central stage powered by RS-68 engines. The new design would be very similiar to the DIRECT launcher.
SpaceX's Elon Musk is determined to recover from the August 2 launch failure. The problem has been traced to the new Merlin 1C regeneratively cooled engine (20-second video). The design circulates fuel around the combustion chamber, leaving some fuel after Main Engine Cutoff. Missing video released by SpaceX shows the first stage separating, then accelerating to bump into the second stage. The vehicle is then thrown into an uncontrollable spin. The problem did not show up on ground tests because it occurs at 10 psi and the ground tests are at 14.7 psi. Elon's commitment makes us hope that they will reach orbit next time.
Thanks to Mars Odyssey for hosting the Carnival of Space!