Orion weight saving refinements continue – focus on ISS access

by David Harris

The Lockheed Martin Orion spacecraft has received a new set of refined baseline targets from NASA, concentrating on ensuring Orion can achieve ISS mission roles, as the vehicle edges closer to using up all of its reserve and weight growth allowances.Orion itself is being refined, in order to ease some of the pressure on the capabilities of its taxi to orbit, the Ares I Crew Launch Vehicle, which itself is heading closer to the Ares I-X test launch in 2009.
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**


The ongoing process of refinements to all elements of the Ares I/Orion vehicle have picked up pace again, following the end of the scheduled stand-down of NASA Constellation design cycle work.

While the Ares I booster – a five segment ATK Solid Rocket Booster – was last seen to have reduced its mass properties to an improved level, along with the Upper Stage – due to major changes to its design – savings at the top end, with the Orion, hold a lot more value for the vehicle as a whole, filtering down into allowances for the Upper Stages and Booster by several multiples. 

Brand new information, acquired by the L2 section of this site, show that Orion will now carry 10,973 lbs (4,977 kg) less propellant for International Space Station (ISS) missions, compared to moon missions. This eases some of the pressures on ensuring Orion can be lifted by Ares I to the ISS, which is Orion’s requirement for around four to five years, before the eventual return to the moon.

As a result, the Ascent Target for Ares I has moved up from -30×100 nmi to a positive number, aiming towards an Ascent Target of a 16×100 mile orbit.

Nitrogen tetroxide (N2O4) and Monomethylhydrazine (MMH) will power the Orion service module’s engine, producing 7,300 lbs (3311 kg) of thrust with 326 sec ISP and a 1.85:1 oxidizer to fuel ratio.

Constrained by the Ares I launch vehicle, the SRD lift-off weight target for Orion is set at 64,450 lbs, or 29.2 MT (Metric Tons), which information showing Orion has cut into nearly all of its reserves and weight growth allowance.

The latest schedule remains optimistic, if not slightly unrealistic due to budgetary pressures, with the launch of Orion 3 – the first full stack, unmanned orbital flight – scheduled for Sept 2012 with a splashdown off Australia, and the first manned orbital flight, Orion 4, is scheduled for a launch date of Oct 2013, with landing at Edwards AFB. 

Before the Orion test launches will take place, the Ares I-X test flight will launch off a partially modified Pad 39B from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). Launch of the four segment booster and dummy upper stage will take place April, 2009. 

More design images have been acquired by L2, showing the dummy Upper Stage of the Ares I-X, showing many levels of internal platforms, interlinked by ladders.

The vehicle will be mated inside the Vehicle Assembly Facility (VAB), with engineers able to walk around the Upper Stage’s inners, placing sensor equipment to allow data gathering during the test flight. Steel plates will be bolted into the inner structure to represent the mass of the propellants that would normally be contained in Upper Stage’s two tanks (LH2 and LOX).

The previously named Ares I-Y – now named Ares 2 – test flight, comprising of a five segment booster with real upper stage and a dummy J-2 engine, is scheduled over two years after Ares I-X, in July, 2011. 

Meanwhile, Boeing will submit its final Ares I Instrument Unit Avionics (IUA) bid on July 30. Boeing is competing against BAE Systems (British Aerospace) and Raytheon for the IUA contract. NASA will select a contractor in November. The team will work closely with Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, where Boeing has a large workforce located.  

‘Boeing has unique capabilities to produce the critical avionics and software needed – drawing on more than 45 years of human space flight and commercial airplane experience.

‘We are confident that Boeing can produce and integrate the best avionics system for NASA’s next generation system,’ said former NASA astronaut and Boeing vice president and general manager Brewster Shaw. 

The IUA will be mounted atop the second stage of Ares I, and will provide guidance, control, and communications to the vehicle. It consists of flight computers, instruments, and communications equipment to control the ascent.

Selection of L2 Resources For Ares I, V and Constellation: 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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