Ares I Upper Stage Risk Reduction Activities Proceeding Well

by Chris Bergin

Team Ares, a collaboration between ATK, Lockheed Martin, and Pratt and Whitney, is hard at work conducting technical risk reduction activities for the Ares I booster’s upper stage using internal company funds.

The team is focusing on several specific areas of risk reduction including fabrication of a common bulkhead that separates the fuel and oxidizer in the launch vehicle, assessing possible impact damage to composite structures, and development of an RCS for the vehicle.

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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Team Ares is proceeding in these target areas to help reduce future technical risk for the Ares I program. ‘We are taking steps today in order to develop data that could lead to the early retirement of program risk,’ said Jim Halsell, ATK Vice President, and the program manager for the Ares I upper stage. ‘Our approach is to be ready to ‘hit the ground running’ in support of NASA.’

The set of risk reduction activities focuses on the specific talents of each company that makes up Team Ares. ‘We have been preparing for this procurement for nearly a year and announced our core team back in September 2006,’ Halsell said.

Specifically, Lockheed Martin is leading fabrication of a prototype ‘common bulkhead dome’ structure separating the fuel and oxidizer tanks in the Ares I upper stage. Drawing on Lockheed Martin’s extensive experience in fabricating light and complex aerospace structures, engineers are utilizing advanced manufacturing techniques such as friction stir welding, phased array ultrasonic inspections and shearography inspections. This activity is being conducted at the Michoud plant in New Orleans.

ATK’s role is in studying methods of detecting and assessing impact damage to composite structures on the vehicle. Utilizing their own experience in building composites for aircraft and EELVs, the company is developing a system to test and analyze data on such impacts for composite test structures. This is especially important for verifying the structural integrity of the Ares I interstage, which is a composite structure.

Pratt & Whitney engineers are testing a monopropellant RCS system for the upper stage. They hope that this early testing will help to mitigate technical risk later on in the program.

While the Ares I program still has a long way to come politically, these technical activities are an important step in making sure that the vehicle is ready to fly. Of the myriad risk mitigation activities, Halsell said, ‘By combining our core competencies and working together in a seamless manner, Team Ares can significantly reduce integration issues and system complexity – and help NASA develop the Ares I Upper Stage within schedule and budget constraints.

‘We have also built a strong team of subcontractors that have been hand-selected to round out our team. Together, we have developed a proposal that presents a seamless effort, and we are ready to perform on this crucial contract for NASA and our Nation.’

Selection of L2 Resources For Ares I, V and Constellation: Updates Constellation launch schedule through to Orion 15. Orion Seat test photos. New ML Graphic and info. New Ares V graphic and baseline data. Large collection of hi res Orion paracute drop tests. SIX Part Series of Ares I Upper Stage Graphical Overviews. 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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