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Rocket-parts carrying vessel draws attention

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By Vince Luecke

312-foot long Delta Mariner bound for Kennedy Space Center

DODD - Living along the Ohio River for years, Jack Brown has seen all sizes and shapes of watercraft ply the waters of the Ohio River. But Sunday's visitor was in a category by itself.

The Delta Mariner, a 312-foot-long vessel carrying rocket components to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, drew the attention of several people. The News received photos from Brown (above) and Colleen Smith (below) of Tell City and fielded calls from others who had seen the large craft.

Brown found the name of the ship through a Corps of Engineers Web site and located a story on the Web site of the Steubenville, Ohio, Herald-Star detailing the craft's journey down the Ohio River to the Mississippi River and then across the Gulf of Mexico to Florida.

According to the story, 11 components that make up the upper stage simulator of the Ares I-X test rocket built at a NASA facility in Cleveland were loaded on the craft in Wellsville, Ohio. The trip was expected to last 12 days.

The Ares rocket will eventually replace the space shuttle's role of carrying astronauts into space.