NASA selects local firm to construct KSC’s Ares I Lightning Towers

by Chris Bergin

Ivey Construction of Merritt Island, Florida, have won a $28m contract to build the three 600 ft high Lightning Towers that will surround Launch Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center.

The three towers will take several years to construct, and will start rising out of the ground before the pad receives its final shuttle – Endeavour’s STS-400, for LON (Launch On Need) support of Atlantis’ Hubble Servicing Mission – in 2008, with completion set for March, 2010.

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.


**ARES V / Mars Transport Vehicle (MTV) LIVE UPDATE PAGES**

**CLICK HERE for a animation of the Towers during a lightning strike**

The lightning protection system is designed to reduce the probability of a direct lightning strike to the Ares I and Ares V vehicles and associated launch equipment during processing and other activities prior to flight.

Under the contract, the company will provide all labor and materials to fabricate and construct three 600-foot, self-supporting structural steel towers and an overhead wire system with associated conductors.

Documentation acquired by this site (available on L2) show a huge amount of work has already been undertaken on producing blueprints and guidelines for contractors to use for fabricating these huge structures that will surround the complex.

Those blueprints are complete, to the finest detail, as Constellation move towards the actual fabrication of the steel work.

Construction of these towers is expected to start this year, rising out of the ground as huge pylons, with five levels for worker access – the highest being Level E at 482ft – rising yet further to a total height of 594ft.

Access to the five levels can be reached by stairs or via the ‘man lift’ that travels up the side of the tower.

Along with the towers – which it has been proposed will be named after Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia – will be nine large downconducters, placed around the complex, which will be anchor points for the massive cables that will stretch across the lightning towers.

Foundation work will be the first element of construction to begin, leading to 12 areas of the complex that will undergo major engineering work.

This work is not specifically required ahead of the 2009 test flight of Ares 1-X (1-X being the new name for the Ares I-1 flight.

The second test flight is now renamed to Ares 2 from Ares I-Y.). For the test flight, NASA will simply add a longer lightning mast on top of 39B to protect the test vehicle.

For shuttle, one final role remains for Pad 39B, hosting Endeavour, while Atlantis launches to carry out the final servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope (STS-125). 

The rescue mission is different to any of the other LON flights, due to Atlantis’ trip into space being the only flight on the remaining shuttle manifest not to have the ‘safe haven’ of the International Space Station (ISS). Even in ‘lifeboat’ mode, a rescue orbiter has to reach the stricken craft within a few weeks, meaning the launch would also require accelerating in the flow.

While a ‘P-t-P’ (Pad to Pad) option was available, the turnaround was too tight to be viable, leading to NASA deciding to hold back the full handover date of Pad 39B to Constellation until after the stand-down was giving during STS-125. Previously, Constellation were set to get their hands on 39B on April 1 of this year.

As outlined in the March 2007 presentation (available on L2), the plan is for the LON orbiter (Endeavour) to rollover to High Bay 3 and then out to Pad 39B first. Endeavour would sit on the pad while Atlantis was stacked in the opposite High Bay, for rollout two weeks after Endeavour.

After the stand-down of the LON requirement was giving during STS-125, Endeavour would then be transported from Pad B to Pad A and prepared for her primary mission, STS-126.

Pad 39B will not be used for payload integration, given Endeavour’s supporting rescue roll would not require any payload for the emergency launch, which allows the pad to undergo a level of Constellation related modifications, so long as they do not interfere with the launch aspects required for Endeavour to launch a rescue mission.

Selection of L2 Resources For Ares I, V and Constellation: Ares V Super Crawler. Ares I Launch Pad images (ML etc.) Hi Res images of Ares I-X Upper Stage. Orion 606 Data Updates. 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). ATK figures on the 5-Seg Booster weight for CLV. Weather Shield (Rain Shield) for Orion on the pad. New Super hi-res images of Ares I. 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. 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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