Saving spaceship Orion – Zero Base Vehicle task complete

by David Harris

NASA Constellation and Lockheed Martin engineers have completed the first stage of a realignment of the Orion spacecraft, a process to control mass issues relating to the Lunar capabilities of the vehicle – classed as the most significant issue engineers are currently working on.The process is being carried out on the Orion 607 – the latest version of the vehicle – which underwent a “scrubbing” of the vehicle to a minimum weight, ahead of the reapplication of some of the deleted capability.




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.

All of this article is based on documented L2 information. For an overview of how L2 works, **click here for sample**


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



The most recent all-hands meeting noted progress in the overall integration effort, as Ares and Orion battle mass and scheduling issues, with ‘teamwork and chemistry’ stressed in the program-wide meeting as the way forward through the design efforts. 

‘Failure is an option during development,’ Ares program leader Steve Cook said in one of the all hands presentations. ‘We are willing to take calculated risks to further our knowledge.’ 

The current baseline shows an improvement on Ares 1 performance, changing from -30x100nmi to -11x100nmi. The insertion altitude has also changed from 55nmi to 70nmi.

The ISS configuration for Ares I/Orion is on relatively solid ground, while the Lunar configuration continues to be a concern, with only half of the launch margins of ISS Orion, which is continuing to slide in a negative direction. These concerns initiated the recent re-alignment of vehicle capabilities/mass.

Right now, Ares I could theoretically launch a Lunar Orion, but without a number of capabilities related to fault tolerance. The good news is that the J2-XD may achieve a higher ISP of between 452 and 458 sec, up from 448 sec. 

The Orion System Definition Review Board was recently completed, and the most significant issue was controlling spacecraft weight to match Ares I performance. The CEV project created a ‘Zero Base Vehicle’ to counter the problem.

The goal of the ZBV is to pull out everything but the minimum capabilities to the single or zero fault tolerance level. The program is now returning certain mission capabilities to get back to a workable design. Working alongside this effort is an emergency-return capability, to survive critical systems failure, and a requirements levelling activity – used to re-define priorities. 

The most significant issue is controlling the spacecraft’s weight, with notable principle factors relating to the total CEV mass limit due to performance of the Ares I launch vehicle, and the Crew Module landing limits on parachutes.

‘The CEV Project initiated an effort to scrub the vehicle to a minimum weight, protecting for single fault tolerance for safety critical items, along with zero fault tolerance for mission critical systems.

‘This effort identified the minimum vehicle capabilities necessary to accomplish a lunar sortie mission, and identified mass margins that could allow some additional vehicle functionality to eventually be added back into the design.

‘This Zero Base Vehicle, as it is called, has been reviewed by the Constellation Program and has passed the review. MOD personnel have been actively participating in this activity, and have been instrumental in identifying ‘buy-back’ areas where additional capabilities need to be added back into the vehicle.

‘The CEV Project is in the process of prioritizing buy-backs and are working to a mid-October completion date to have a new baseline vehicle that meets the mass targets,’ noted Constellation Program’s Bob Armstrong.

‘In parallel with this effort are tasks to provide the crew a CEV Emergency Return Mode following a critical spacecraft system failure, including loss of the active cooling or computer control; and a CEV requirements levelling activity to ensure the existing requirements are allocated at the right level in the requirements and specifications structure.

‘These activities will be folded in with the weight scrubbing activity and come to the CEV Project Control Board for approval of the new CEV 607 Point of Departure baseline on November 1. The Orion Design Analysis Cycle 2 (ODAC 2) will kick-off on November 15 and will provide critical analyses necessary for a successful PDR next year.’

Recent source information points to the Orion 607 being delayed until into November – when previously it was expected in mid-October – due to this vital ZBV activity.

‘The CEV Project faces some very real challenges and difficult decisions will need to be made,’ Armstrong added. ‘As members of the CEV team, Mission Operations personnel are helping the CEV project management make informed decisions with respect to the impacts to future operations of the CEV.’ 

Under evaluation are more changes to the Orion 607 development cycle, with the option to replace the solid LAS (Launch Abort System) with a monopropellant liquid system or a hybrid liquid/solid system.

The new ‘bullet cover’ aerodynamic fairing makes room for a hydrazine tank under the fairing for use in a liquid LAS (see Constellation image sample at the top of the article showing mid design cycle Orion 607).

NASA is also studying a possible option of retaining a mid-design cycle deletion of the airbag landing system in Orion 607, quadrupling the contract to find solutions to the mass issues associated with the system, classing the documented contract increase to ‘avoid significant technical and programmatic impacts to the Orion project.’ 

In other news, KSC Constellation have decided that Orion will be serviced in the MPPF (Multi-Payload Processing Facility) and the LAS will be integrated in the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building). There will be no hold down posts for Ares I, as gravity alone will keep the vehicle on the pad.

Offline stacking of the first stage, a new concept to avoid the need for a second Ares I Mobile Launch Platform, is undergoing trade studies ahead of an expected approval.

Also, the ‘rollercoaster’ Emergency Escape System has undergone a complete redesign, where the whole rail track structure will remain out at the pad complex and linked up with the LUT when the vehicle arrives (articles will follow – presentations on L2).

Selection of L2 Resources For Ares I, V and Constellation: LSAM (LDAC-1) Video and Images. Several Constellation All Hands Videos and Presentations. Ares I Pad Rollercoaster (Old and New presentation and slides – ‘CGI ride on the Ares pad coaster’ video coming soon. Ares I VAB ‘In-Line’ Stacking presentation slides. Live updates on status of changes to Ares I first stage aft.

Presentation of Ares/Orion impacts relating to Shuttle manifest acceleration. Ares I Interstage diagrams. Ares V Super Crawler. Ares I Launch Pad images (ML etc.) Hi Res images of Ares I-X Upper Stage. Orion 606-7 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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