SLS and Orion: October 2009 Archives

Ares 1-X First Stage Damaged

NASA assessing dented booster from Ares 1-X launch, Spaceflight Now

"Photographs taken by the recovery crew show the four-segment shuttle booster floating upright in the Atlantic Ocean shortly after splashdown. An initial inspection, sources said, revealed the sort of paint blistering that is typically found on shuttle boosters, along with a good sized dent in the lower segment that was photographed by divers."

30 October 11:48 am EDT update: NASA KSC speaker on Ares 1-X parachutes: "we had one good one, one completely failed one, and one partially opened. That caused the booster to hit at high speed." This vhicle had 15% more weight than the actual weight of an Ares 1 ... The dent on the booster was due to water impact ... we are not dwelling on the damage because we never planned to use this booster again. ... We do not consider this to be a significant event.

Ares 1-X Staging Issue

Ares I-X rocket chalks up successful test flight, CNet

"But in a departure from the expected flight program, the dummy second stage went into a flat tumble as it continued along its ballistic trajectory instead of maintaining a nose-forward orientation. The dummy upper stage rose to a maximum altitude of about 150,000 feet before arcing over and plunging back to Earth 150 miles east of the space center."

'We stand today on the shoulders of giants,' rocket manager says, Huntsville Times

"One area of concern comes from the separation of the first-stage solid rocket booster and the upper stage mockup, Davis said. "We are looking into that. It appeared the upper stage could have come back and made contact with the first-stage booster," he said. "That's what testing a design is all about, though. We've had some concerns, and now we've got hard information coming back so we can improve on Ares."

Ares test launch helps NASA 'avoid potential political damage', Huntsville Times

"Griffin, who is working to develop a Center for Systems Studies at UAH, watched the launch on his computer. "It was marvelous," he said. "It was right on trajectory the whole way."

Keith's note: In this NASA CGI video of a computer simulation of the Ares 1-X, the first stage is shown slowly tumbling at staging and the second stage is shown flying on straight after staging only to start tumbling later. But the actual flight shows the first stage in steady flight and the second stage flying almost backward. According to Bill Harwood's article in CNet, Mission Manager Bob Ess said "So far, we're on a path to learn a lot. The separation seemed a little different than we predicted as far as how the upper stage reacted after separation. So right there's an opportunity for us to jump in and figure out what was different in the actual flight from our models. So, hugely successful."? AS for Mike Griffin's comment about the rocket being "right on trajectory" I am going to assume that he shut off the video feed before staging.

Hmm, had there been a crew in a real capsule on a real second stage this might have been a slight problem. Yes, there was no second stage motor. But what if there was a real motor and it failed to start? One would think, at a minimum, that you'd like to have a design that defaults to a safe stage separation regardless of whether second stage ignition occurs such that a crew abort could be initiated. Its these high altitude abort scenarios that NASA managers often wave around to disqualify EELVs for use with human crews.

Then again, this was a flight test. And this aspect of the flight of Ares 1-X demonstrates precisely why they are valuable.

Video: Ares 1-X Launch

Ares 1-X Launch Scrubbed

Keith's note: According to NASA: "Launch Director Ed Mango informally polled his team to ensure the vehicle and its system are all still "go." The range is not available after noon today due to reasons such as airspace and warning areas, planes operating on flight plans, and other issues. Today's launch window ends at noon.". The Ares 1-X rocket itself is all green and good to go. Winds have started to trend down and have hit - but not exceeded - the limit.

NASA was looking for a 11:20 am EDT count resume for a 11:24 am EDT launch. Weather is green on triboelectrification and is red on wind. Weather officer says that conditions for T=0 will be red for triboelectrification. LC says "We are not going to resume."

Heard on MSNBC at 8:00 am EDT:

Mika Brzezinski:"The flight will last 2 minutes and cost $400 million"
Joe Scarborough: "USA!!"

Heard on MSNBC at 9:48 am EDT: Jay Barbree says that Orion will carry a crew of "as many as 6 astronauts" and that the Ares 1 is the "best designed" and "safest rocket ever designed" .

Heard on MSNBC at 9:57 am EDT: Jay Barbree says "We have new people who do not have experience in this office who are trying to go through a commercial launch [for crew] and if they do it will be a delay for at least a decade before we have [something for] astronauts from this country to fly upon."

NASA's Orion's Pad Abort-1 Test Vehicle [Image Set], OnOrbit

"At the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, a portion of Orion's Pad Abort-1 (PA-1) test vehicle is shown from above in the Final Integration and Test Facility during preparations for the flight test.

From left to right are the abort motor, the jettison motor and the interstage section not yet attached. In addition to the attitude control motor (not pictured), these motors will be used for the first Orion test of the launch abort system, PA-1."

Nervous In Huntsville

Shelby lashes out at White House space committee

"Republican Senator Richard Shelby launched a preemptive strike on President Barack Obama's blue ribbon space panel ther day before its due to release its final report, calling the committee's findings "worthless." Shelby, a staunch defender of NASA's Marshal Space Flight Center In Huntsville, Alabama, said in a Senate floor speech that the committee failed to consider safety when it ranked various rocket options for the White House to consider. "Without an honest and thorough examination of the safety and reliability aspects of the various designs and options for manned space flight, the findings of this report are worthless," said Shelby."

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden hopes to meet with Obama before end of year on agency future, Huntsville Times

"I certainly hope we can meet, discuss his wants for NASA, provide him with the information he needs and hear his decisions before the end of the year," Bolden told The Times after he made a presentation at the Von Braun Center today. "The sooner we can move forward the better. However, the president has a lot of decisions about a number of areas to make. We are one on his list."

Rock-a-bye Rocket (NASA, Ares I-X, 9/2/09)

"During the testing, vibrations were mechanically introduced into the rocket by four hydraulic shakers simulating the same kind of vibrations expected during flight so the effects could be monitored. A sway of the vehicle was then manually introduced (with a little help from Mission Manager, Bob Ess and Deputy Mission Manager Steve Davis) to create a lateral, back and forth motion so the team could measure how the rocket reacts."

Ares I-X Is On Its Launch Pad

"For the first time in more than a quarter century, a new vehicle is sitting at Launch Pad 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Ares I-X flight test vehicle arrived at the pad atop of a giant crawler-transporter at approximately 7:45 a.m. EDT Tuesday. The crawler-transporter left Kennedy's Vehicle Assembly Building at 1:39 a.m., traveling less than 1 mph during the 4.2-mile journey. The rocket was secured on the launch pad at 9:17 a.m. The vehicle is scheduled to launch at 8 a.m. on Oct. 27. This test flight of the Ares I-X rocket will provide NASA an early opportunity to test and prove hardware, models, facilities and ground operations associated with the Ares I launch vehicle."

Rolling Out Ares 1-X

"In the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASAs Kennedy Space Center in Florida, a time lapse camera documented the buildup of the Ares I-X flight test rocket. The first video was on Nov. 3, 2008 and the final video was on Aug. 30, 2009."

NASA Reschedules Rollout Of Ares I-X

"NASA has rescheduled to Tuesday, Oct. 20, the rollout of the Ares I-X rocket to Launch Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida."

An Open Letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Robert Bigelow, Space News

"Both large, experienced companies like Boeing, and new entrepreneurial firms like Bigelow Aerospace and SpaceX, believe in the value of commercial crew. The Atlas 5 has already proven itself more than capable of delivering high-value cargo, and, if a commercial crew program is initiated, the Atlas will readily prove itself capable of delivering crew to LEO. Herein lies the answer to your human spaceflight dilemma. A commercial crew program can easily return Americans to space in a mere four years for the amount of funding recommended by the Augustine Committee."

Keith's note: When I originally posted a link to this article last night I was able to access and read it even though I do not subscribe to Space News. Now Space News/ has decided to shut off free access and only make it available to paid subscribers. As such, I have posted the letter here, courtesy of Bob Bigelow: "An Open Letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden From Robert Bigelow"

Bolden talks frankly: Ares I might be dead but so are EELVs, Hyperbola

"What was surprising was the degree to which Bolden had clearly already decided that Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles were not going to be a part of that future. Despite this journalist's prodding about the interest showninEELVs during the Augustine review Bolden was very clear, they were not man rated and multiple launch scenarios with LEO rendezvous and docking was just a no-no; so this was one formertwo-star US Marine Corp general this blogger decided it was not worth arguing with"

Keith's note: From what I hear from in and around the 9th floor, Charlie Bolden's actual opinion (and that of those around him) is somewhat different than is portrayed in Hyperbola. While there is not much interest at NASA in the evolution of EELVs towards providing a heavy launch vehicle capability, there is certainly continued interest in the use of EELVs as part of a commerical crew launch capability. As such EELVs most certainly have not been ruled out or seen as being "dead" as an option. Stay tuned. The Augustine report lands at the White House next week and then a lot of things will start to break loose.

SpaceX hopes to launch first manned commercial rocket, Orlando Sentinel

"Asked what bugs them most about NASA outsourcing the job of flying crew to the International Space Station, some astronauts roll their eyes and say: "Dragon." That's the name of the capsule being built by SpaceX, the aerospace startup founded by Internet tycoon Elon Musk, a capsule designed to be fully automated. But with no controls to "fly" their ride, astronauts fear they'll be "Spam in a can" -- little more than human cargo. And if they don't pilot a ship, they worry, how can they keep the fleet of T-38 jets that are the symbol of the astronaut corps?"

Keith's note: After he sent Mike Coats his thoughts on the Augustine Committee, Jeff Hanley forwarded these comments to others with some additional commentary. That email was forwarded again - and again ...

"From: Jeff Hanley
Date: Wed, 2 Sep 2009 20:25:13
Subject: Fw: Reaction...

fyi - Coats gave me a draft of the Augustine 'exec summary', and after reading it I sent him these notes...

My overall reaction is 'what a fcking mess' - they make empty claims of 'possible' this and'could result in' that with no data, they contradict themselves by claiming to be worried about life cycle cost and then pushing 'options' that actually are WORSE for LCC, they dismiss anything positive about Ares I or Constellationin general, base theirfindings on a vacuum of systems engineering or responsible programmaticassessments, and ignore THEIR OWN statements from their public sessions that'any change in path should be compelling' by being dismissive ofCx as defined.



Internal NASA Email from Constellation manager Jeff Hanley to JSC Center Director Mike Coats

Internal NASA Email from Constellation manager Jeff Hanley to JSC Center Director Mike Coats

"Page 12 "In the Ares I plus Ares V system planned by Constellation, the Ares I launches the Orion and docks in LEO with the Altair lander launched on the Ares V. This is the system planned by the Constellation Program. It has the advantage of projected very high ascent crew safety, but delays the development of the Ares V heavy lift vehicle until after the independently operated Ares I is developed."

. Great heavy sigh.

. This paragraph demonstrates either an intentional mischaracterization of the facts or a clear lack of understanding of Constellation."

NASA Invites Media to View Historic Ares 1-X Move

"Reporters are invited to cover the historic Ares I-X rocket move to Launch Pad 39B on Oct. 19 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The first flight test of NASA's Constellation Program, Ares I-X is targeted to launch on Oct. 27. First motion for Ares I-X out of Kennedy's Vehicle Assembly Building to the launch pad is targeted for 12:01 a.m. EDT on Oct. 19. The 4.2-mile journey is expected to take approximately seven hours. Activities include a first motion photo and interview opportunities with Ares I-X managers. In addition, a sunrise photo opportunity will be available at 7 a.m."

Keith's note: Why is this "historic"? This is not the first time that a large rocket has been moved on the crawler transporter - Saturn rockets were much bigger - and Ares 1-X is mostly built out of dummy parts or systems borrowed from other rockets. So ... why is this "historic"? Or is this "historic" because it is the first time NASA has built only one copy of an expensive rocket with lingering doubts that no more will ever be built?

Report: NASA manager calls Augustine panel dishonest and wrong

"According to the newspaper's report, Constellation Program manager Jeff Hanley told Houston's Johnson Space Center Director Michael Coats in a 3,376-word e-mail that the panel -- headed by former Lockheed Martin CEO Norm Augustine -- ignored "anything positive" about Constellation while making exaggerated claims about alternative systems. "We are betting the farm on severe speculation," Hanley was quoted as telling Coats, a veteran shuttle pilot and mission commander. The e-mail was leaked a day ahead of the Augustine Committee's final public hearing via teleconference today at 1 p.m. EDT and should add more fire to the debate about the future of NASA's human space exploration plans. The committee's final report is expected before the end of the month. The White House is believed to favor major changes in Constellation - including possibly canceling its Ares I rocket -- while several members of Congress say they will oppose any change."



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This page is an archive of entries in the SLS and Orion category from October 2009.

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