Ares Troubles

Editor's 27 Oct update: This chart shows one of the scenarios where winds could cause the Ares 1 to drift toward the launch tower and possibly damage it with its plume. Click on image to enlarge.

Problems mount for NASA's Ares rocket, New Scientist

"One NASA engineer, who has participated in studies of Ares I performance, told New Scientist the rocket's design needs a complete rethink: "You might as well change gears and work on a design that is going to be successful."

Ares chief defends rocket design, Huntsville Times

"The head of NASA's Ares rocket program defended the design of the launch vehicle Monday, dismissing critics that claim it would be unstable at launch. Recent published reports say the Ares rocket could drift during launch because of winds, striking the tower. However, all rockets move during launch, said Steve Cook, manager of the Ares program at Marshall Space Flight Center."

Sentinel exclusive: Is NASA's Ares doomed?, Orlando Sentinel

"Now, in the latest setback to the Ares I, computer models show the ship could crash into its launch tower during liftoff. The issue is known as "liftoff drift." Ignition of the rocket's solid-fuel motor makes it "jump" sideways on the pad, and a southeast breeze stronger than 12.7 mph would be enough to push the 309-foot-tall ship into its launch tower. ... Internal documents and studies obtained by the Orlando Sentinel appear to support concerns expressed by Finckenor and others. Nonetheless, NASA's leaders maintain that Ares will be ready for launch in 2015."

Astronauts, whose prime concern is safety, are still not happy. Leroy Chiao, a former space-station commander who retired in 2005, stays in touch with his colleagues. "I would say that I have heard various concerns," he said. "If I were still in the corps, I'd be skeptical about when is this thing going to fly and will we be able to put all the fixes in place."

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on October 28, 2008 8:28 AM.

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