Constellation concerned by the gap in public support for NASA

by Chris Bergin

Ares project manager Steve Cook believes there is a “clear gap in support for NASA” in the 18-24 age group, ahead of the Office of Strategic Analysis and Communications (OSAC) arrival at Constellation to address the problem.

Cook was speaking in his weekly notes, which also noted the designing and building of a Jumbo Drop Test Vehicle (JDTV) for Ares First Stage parachute testing, and another change being implemented on the Ares I Upper Stage.
Huge amounts of VSE related insider news and presentations – THE most comprehensive place to follow Ares/Orion development – are available for download on L2. See list at the end of this article.


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NASA’s problem with communicating to the public has been the subject of a number of media reports, some of which – wrongly or rightly – point towards a level of apathy within today’s often described as ‘American Idol’ driven youth.

OSAC is one group that has been tasked with tackling the problem, and will meet with Constellation to find out where NASA PAO/Communications departments throughout the agency are apparently failing the public.

‘The Integration Deputy Manager and a representative from the Office of Strategic Analysis and Communications (OSAC) are planning to meet with the Constellation Program Strategic Communications Manager Jennifer Radigan at the Johnson Space Center,’ noted Steve Cook’s notes for March, available on L2.

‘This follows a meeting they attended at Marshall with Bob Hopkins, the NASA Assistant Administrator for Communications Planning, who rolled out the Agency’s strategic communications framework, including key messages built on marketing research and focus group participation.

‘It is clear that there is a gap in support for NASA in the 18-24 age group, and that a sustainable space program depends on long-term advocacy from these future taxpayers and voters. Future planning will address these and other influential audiences based on sound marketing research and messages that are geared toward sharing the value proposition for space.’

Also noted in Steve Cook’s notes was something those 18 to 24 year olds might find ‘cool’ – the development of a Jumbo Drop Test Vehicle (JDTV), a 50,000 pound vehicle that will be used to test the parachute recovery systems of the large five segment first stage booster of the Ares I.

‘United Space Alliance (USA) is in the process of awarding a competitive subcontract to Coleman Aerospace to design and build a Jumbo Drop Test Vehicle (JDTV) along with a corresponding United States Air Force (USAF) approved Aircraft Extraction System (AES). The AES will be used to drop test the First Stage drogue and main parachutes from C-17 fixed wing aircraft,’ added the notes.

Concerns that the larger booster was not recoverable were dismissed on the same Steve Cook notes from a few months ago, and the tests – which will prove recoverability – will work in parallel with the on-going evaluations with the Orion parachute system.

The testing of the Orion parachutes, on-going at the US proving grounds in Yuma, Arizona, suffered a recent set-back with a test failure, which saw the DTV (Drop Test Vehicle) dropping back to Earth at such a speed, the remaining parts were buried 30 feet under the ground.

The DTV’s bigger brother will be developed in conjunction with the US Air Force, and will have the capacity for the highest loads expected during the drop tests.

‘The JDTV will have a base weight of 50,000 pounds with a maximum capability of 80,000 pounds,’ added the notes. ‘This heavy JDTV will be required to achieve the high drop test loads required to complete development testing of the drogue and main parachutes.

‘First Stage is working closely with the USAF in developing a system that will meet their approval for heavy load extraction from a C-17.’

Also, as Constellation work towards starting the DAC-2 (Design Cycle) of the ever-changing Ares I Upper Stage, another additional change has been noted on what is now a stretched common bulkhead design – which is currently being baselined into the US, as engineers move to closeout the DAC-1C version.

‘A multidisciplinary team led by the structures and thermal Integrated Product Team (IPT) recommend a DAC-2A common bulkhead design. The design selected is a 125 inch radius, spherical cap, honeycomb sandwich configuration primarily due to mass impacts, thermal efficiency, and similarity to flight proven designs,’ noted Constellation information acquired by this site.

‘We anticipate an informational presentation to the Design Integration Working Group (DIWG) next week. The selected option has some weight advantages over the DAC-1C design that can be used to improve robustness.’

L2 Resources For Ares I, V and Constellation: DAC-1C DDD Vast Slides on Vehicle Design. ATK First Stage Presentation. 39B Lightning Towers Slides.
DAC-1C Departure points to DAC-2 Upper Stage Graphcs (Many Changes). Orion/CEV Display Layout Presentation (40 pages) – Feb 5. ATK figures on the 5-Seg Booster weight for CLV – Feb 2. Weather Shield (Rain Shield) for Orion on the pad – Feb 1. New Super hi-res images of Ares I – Feb 1. ATK Cutaway graphics of Ares I – perspective and axonometric – Feb 1. Ares I/Orion CxP 72031 Requirements Validation Matrix Information. CEV Paracute Assembly System (CPAS) Presentation.

Orion Launch Abort System (LAS) overview presentation – Jan 16. Major changes to Ares I Upper Stage – expansive details and data. Ares I/Orion CxP 72031 Requirements Validation Matrix Information. Saturn Twang Test Video for use with Ares I-1R. CLV Umbilical Trade Matrix XLS.

Vehicle interfaces for the DAC 1C version of Orion Ares – Jan 3. Ares I-1R Test Flight Plan (full outline) Presentation. Ares I-1 timeline and modification expanded info. Ares I troubleshooting latest. Ares I Reference Trajectory. Boeing’s STS to Ares – Lessons Learned Presentation. Latest Ares I and Ares V baseline Configuration image and data. CLV DAC-1C (Changes to CLV Upper Stage).

Ares I-1: Four Seg+Dummy ‘Tuna Can’ stage. Ascent Developmental Flight Test Presentation. CLV Pad 39B Handover Info and Latest. New images of CLV on top of new MLP and LUT. Lockheed Martin CEV/Orion Updates. Constellation news updates. ATK figures on the 5-Seg Booster weight for CLV.

90 Minute Video of Constellation all hands meeting. CLV TIM Meeting Information. CLV/CaLV Infrastructure, Timelines and Information. Escape System Trade Study Presentation.

CEV-CLV Design Analysis Cycle Review (DAC-2) Presentation. Constellation SRR updates. CLV Stick – Troubleshooting/Alternatives/Updates. New CEV Images (include abort mode). Flight Design and Dynamics Division CEV update. CLV Mono-propellant RCS system. CEV pressurisation system review. CLV/CEV Configuration Images. The 2×3 Seg SRB Crew Launch Vehicle Option Presentation…plus more.

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