SLS and Orion: February 2011 Archives

Lockheed Martin Ships Out First Orion Spacecraft

"The Lockheed Martin Orion team shipped out the first Orion crew module spacecraft structure today from NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, La. The spacecraft is headed to Lockheed Martin's Denver, Colo. facilities where it will undergo a series of rigorous tests to confirm Orion's ability to safely fly astronauts through all the harsh environments of deep space exploration missions."

ATK moving forward with Liberty rocket, Salt Lake Tribune

"Regardless of whether the government agrees to help fund Alliant Techsystems' rocket that would take astronauts to the International Space Station, the Utah company intends to move forward with its project because it believes there will be no shortage of commercial customers. ATK and a partner on Tuesday unveiled the two-stage Liberty rocket that they want NASA to use as the next launch vehicle for the U.S. space program. And they are hoping the space agency will see fit to award it at least a portion of a $200 million pool of money set aside for promising projects."

Keith's 10 Feb note: Of course U.S. taxpayers have already made a huge down payment on Ares-1 development. I wonder how ATK gets to use the Ares 1 modified transporter, launch pad, VAB, etc - also modified with lots of tax dollars. That won't cost ATK money? Isn't the use of these designs and facilities using NASA money?

Keith's 11 Feb 12:42 pm update: According to ATK's George Torres, who called and left me a voicemail statement: "The ATK spokesperson spoke out of line. What we're really about is to meet goal of CCDev to accelerate commercial program and to try and mature the program and working on the integrate these two systems as part of the deveopment. CCDev funding would accelerate this by 2 years." He said that he'd sent me a statement by email at some point.

Keith's 11 Feb 2:14 pm update: Here is ATK's statement: "These comments were inaccurate and from someone who didn't have full insight into the business model as presented for the CCDev2 acquisition. Specifically, our proposal is focused on the goals of CCDev-2, which are to "further advance commercial Crew Transportation System (CTS) concepts and mature the design and development of elements of the system such as launch vehicles and spacecraft." Overall, it really responds to the main goal of the procurement, which is to "accelerate the development of commercial crew systems." If we do win a CCDev-2 contract we can accelerate our first flight two years from 2015 to 2013. With the payload capabilities of Liberty and its low price, we believe it will be a strong competitor for CCDev-2. As for use of KSC facilities, we are responding to NASA's request on how we would utilize KSC facilities (just like other potential contractors) on a leased basis."

Nickname for Liberty

Keith's note: Ares 1 was nicknamed the "Stick".

I guess we need a new nickname for Liberty. That slick first stage paint scheme (much better than Ares 1-X white or Ares -1 foam-orange) brings some names to mind - "Candy Cane" and "Barber Pole" for example.


ATK and Astrium Unveil the Liberty(TM) Launch Vehicle Initiative for NASA's CCDev-2 Competition

"ATK and Astrium (an EADS Company) are working together in response to NASA's Commercial Crew Development-2 (CCDev-2) procurement. The team is offering NASA launch services with the Liberty(TM) rocket. This new launch vehicle combines two of the world's most reliable propulsion systems, with a collective heritage of nearly 150 successful flights. ATK would supply the human-rated first stage, which it developed under NASA's Space Exploration Program. The five-segment solid rocket first stage is derived from the Space Shuttle's four-segment solid rocket boosters (SRBs) which are built by ATK and have flown 107 successful missions since 1988 (encompassing 214 SRBs). Astrium, the developer and manufacturer of the Ariane 5 launcher, working with Snecma (Safran Group), Europe's leading propulsion company, is providing Liberty's second stage based on the liquid-fueled cryogenic core of the Ariane 5 vehicle powered by the Vulcain2."

Keith's note: So, let me get this straight: NASA pours billions into ATK to develop the 5-segment SRB first stage of Ares 1. It has never been flown. Massive cost overruns, technical problems, and multi-year schedule delays force its cancellation. Now, ATK takes that multi-billion dollar taxpayer investment, paints a fancy logo on it, and tries to sell it back to the taxpayers as a commercial product?

Oh yes, this rocket will deliver "44,500 pounds to the International Space Station orbit". Hmm, that's less than NASA's advertised Ares 1 capability i.e. "25-ton payload capacity to deliver resources and supplies to the International Space Station".

Ares 1-X in The Movies

Reader note: "I watched the movie "Monsters" last week. "After a NASA deep-space probe crash landed in Mexico..." The 'deep-space probe crash' video is actually the real video of Ares 1-x flight "staging" (i.e. burn-out)."

Keith's note: According to this NASA JSC Mission Management Flight Request, this flight was charted for passengers to "attend and participate in the Constellation SFA Recognition Event activities". It took off with 11 people who went from JSC to GRC, dropped off 4, and the remaining 7 people flew from GRC to LaRC, had breakfast and then flew back to JSC. Those making the ESMD breakfast run: Dale Thomas, Charlie Stegemoeller, Mark Kirasich, Brenda Ward, Barbara Zelon, Stephanie Castillo, and Sonia Vasquez.



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This page is an archive of entries in the SLS and Orion category from February 2011.

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