Ares I Rollercoaster EES continues to evolve

by Chris Bergin

The design work on the Ares I Emergency Escape System (EES) Rollercoaster is starting to pick up the pace, as the huge project undergoes further refinements on the giant structure that will reside at Pad 39B.

Redesigned as a fixed structure that will rise several hundred feet into the Space Coast panorama, a Design Kick Off presentation has called for three vehicles that can carry nine passengers each, in the event of an emergency evacuation of the pad.

**The most comprehensive collection of Shuttle, Ares, Orion and ISS related presentations and mission documentation, plus expansive daily processing documentation and updates are available to download on L2 **

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


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Rollercoaster EES Latest:

Over a year since’s 2006 exclusive on the EES plans that involved a trade study – resulting in the rollercoaster being chosen over alternative escape options, such as slide wire baskets and slide tubes – NASA finally released an image of the system in 2007.

Ironically, that came shortly after that design was scrapped in favour of a fixed, self supporting structure, that will be a permanent fixture at Pad 39B, throwing out plans for a vertical drop for the escaping astronauts and/or pad crew. Click image for a sample of the L2 video riding the Ares I EES Rollercoaster.

Such is the size of the project, refinements to the final design will continue through to the final proposal date of November, 2009. However, with the basic design of the structure now appearing to be more solid since the major change last year, focus is now being placed on the coaster’s railcars.

Those cars – three of them – are tasked with evacuating up to 18 people – despite capacity for 27 – from the pad in the event of an emergency. Currently open cars, their design may be refined to be enclosed, especially when considering an evacuation caused by a hypergolic leak.

‘The EES shall be able to accommodate a maximum of 18 persons (two cars full – or three with room) including 6 flight crew, up to 6 closeout crew and/or ground operations personnel, and 6 fire/rescue personnel,’ noted the expansive presentation, available on L2.

‘The EES shall accommodate up to 12 incapacitated persons (laid on the floor of the cars) out of the maximum capacity of 18 persons.

‘It shall be able to egress up to 12 persons to include 6 flight crew, and up to 6 closeout crew and/or ground operations personnel in 1.5 minutes with no assistance from fire/rescue personnel.

‘The 1.5 minutes starts when the last person enters into the EES vehicle on the loading platform and ends when the last person enters the safety bunker. For reference purposes the total egress timeline starting outside the CEV hatch and ending at the existing bunker is 2 minutes.

‘The EES rail vehicles shall accommodate flight crew (astronauts) in space suits, rescue workers in fire suits, and closeout crew and ground support personnel in SCAPE suits or ordinary clothing.’

‘The EES shall provide a clear route in the vehicle loading area into the egress vehicles without any steps or stairs, with accommodation for Firex Protection spray.’

The requirements noted in the presentation also point to coaster being fully tested before every launch, though it is not clear if the test run will involve lucky United Space Alliance workers, or astronauts – or if the passengers will be substituted by weights.

‘The EES shall be designed to allow an operational demonstration (e.g., weighted and run down the tracks to its endpoint at the existing safety bunker) for every vehicle flow,’ added the presentation. ‘The EES shall provide a vehicle retrieval mechanism, such as a hoist, to return vehicle from the ground section back to the loading area.’

The system will be unpowered – required in the event of a power failure on the pad – and can be started without any interaction from those evacuating the pad. Once the cars begin to roll down the track, gravity will be the main driving force for the long – but speedy – trip to the protective bunker.

‘The EES shall be a passive system requiring human action to start, but no human action to stop. The vehicle launching mechanism shall be unpowered, and gravity or mechanically driven with a minimal to zero degree ramp angle for personnel loading.

‘The EES vehicles shall provide a fire and flash barrier for egressing personnel during trip, such as protective siding on vehicles, and shall provide fall and injury protection for pad personnel once egress vehicles leave the tower.

‘The ground section of the EES shall provide areas of ground clearance for personnel and maintenance vehicles on the LC-39B surface.’

Design work will include requirements for the giant structure to withstand wind strengths and the thrust of Ares I’s departure from the pad. Its vast steel work will be specially coated to help avoid corrosion.

‘Meet wind load requirements outlined in documentation. It shall be capable of withstanding launch dynamic loading, and meet corrosion and protective coating requirements.’

Maintenance of the cars will be carried out in the bunker – which is still in an early phase of design. Sources note the bunker will act as a protective structure that doubles up as a maintenance hanger for servicing the cars.

Interestingly, images contained within the presentation show the pad to still have the Rotating Service Structure (RSS) and Fixed Service Structure (FSS) used for shuttle remaining in place.

They have no purpose in the Ares program, but their removal is not assigned in the tight Constellation budget and thus are likely to remain in place for some time – and possibly during the first few launches of Ares I.

With those structures remaining in place, added to the Rollercoaster EES being a permanent fixture at the complex and surrounded by the three 600 ft lightning protection towers, Pad 39B will dominate the skyline at KSC. Those towers have already started to rise out of the ground around 39B.

Pad 39B will host its final shuttle during the STS-400 Launch On Need (LON) requirement this fall, when Endeavour sits on the pad during Atlantis’ launch on STS-125 from 39A. Once the standdown has been given, Endeavour will then roll to Pad 39A for her primary mission – STS-126.

To review the latest series of Ares/Orion articles based on documentated engineering processes being carried out on the vehicles at this time. Click for: **Part 1** – **Part 2** – **Part 3** – **Part 4** **Part 5** – **Part 6** – **Part 7**

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

20mb of new Lunar Images of Chariot, Athlete and Lunar Crane. Ares I KSC Processing Master Book – 184 pages. Changes for Ares I-X (Images). PRCB Transition Presentation (Shuttle to Ares). Ares V (5.5/6xRS-68) Presentation (and more). Orion Parachute Vehicle Images. Latest Risk Matrix for Ares. SI Unit Directive Document. CxP PMR08 Manifest. PDR and associated notes from CPCB meeting. Full (and very expansive) list of current Ares/Orion mass and status report. Ares I ‘Parasorber’ TO migitation hardware presentation and animation. Orion Parachute Test Vehicle (PTV) Photographs.

110mb worth of Ares I-X Weekly Test Presentations (Ares I-X, J2-X etc. up to end of April) The Orion LIDS (Low Impact Docking System) Section (Images, Videos, Engineering Notes). Hi Res Images of Ares I in the VAB. Ares I-X Integrated Milestone Charts. Ares I Thrust Oscillation Focus Team Status Presentations (over 50mb – includes DTO on Shuttle missions), Ares I-X Global Buckling Status Presentation, Ares I – Launch Pad Stabilization and Damping Presentation, Ares I: Purge/Vent/Drain and Vehicle Access Presentation.

Ares Tilt Up Umbilical Arm (TUUA) Test – Video, Ares/Orion Comm and Tracking Presentation, Ares I Nozzle Extension Update Presentation, Ares/Orion Integrated Stack TIM Summary (Major Issues) Presentation, Orion Land vs Water Landing Update + Crew Survival (post 36 hrs) Presentations.

Altair Overview Presentation. Ares I Risks and Status. Ares I-X Booster Recovery Images and Video. Ares I-X Pad Images. Ares I-Y Mission Overview Video (50mb – Superb).  Orion Lunar Transit CGI Video. (Several more videos, including first video of Orion splashdown). 

Orion Rendezvous with the ISS CGI Video, plus AERCam Inspections. Ares I Thurst Oscillation Update Section.  Images of completed PA-1 boilerplate Command Module at LaRC.  CxP Planning for Architecture Closure – Feb 19. Ares V Overview Presentations. Other Major CxP Updates for Feb (List restricted to L2).

Orion 607 Overview Presentation (Jan 08), Constellation Program Status/Budget and new Manifest to Orion 20 Presentation (Jan, 08). Michoud Transition to Ares I/V (Jan 17, 08). Several MLAS (Max Launch Abort System) Presentations. Over 60 Hi Res Images of Orion Mock-up at JSC (Hatch, Seats, Flight Deck) – December.

Lunar Habitat Assembly. PRCB Presentations on hardware and infrastruction transition (from Palmdale to MLP Park) ‘Follow live’ Lightning Towers Construction images. Latest Mobile Launcher details. Orion/Ares I/Delta IV Heavy NEO Feasibility Study (Video). Constellation EVA Study Presentation. Superb Gene Kranz address to CxP workforce (Apollo to Orion feature) video. MOD ‘LEO to Mars’ presentations.

Superb Ares I Launch Ascent, Pad Abort Test CGI Videos (three). Integrated Stack (IS) Technical Interchange Meeting (TIM) notes – Nov 6 to Nov 15. The full ‘8th Floor News’ – Constellation Update (performance issues) – Nov 5. Ares I Mobile Launcher PMR.

‘Proposed’ Ares I SRBSF (Mini VAB) and graphic. LSAM (LDAC-1) Video and Images. Several Constellation All Hands Videos and Presentations. Ares I Pad Rollercoaster (Old and New presentation and slides – the very cool ‘CGI ride on the Ares pad coaster’ video. Ares I VAB ‘In-Line’ Stacking presentation slides.

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. Ares I/Orion CxP 72031 Requirements Validation Matrix Information. CEV Paracute Assembly System (CPAS) Presentation.

Orion Launch Abort System (LAS) overview presentation. Changes to Ares I Upper Stage – expansive details and data. Ares I/Orion CxP 72031 Requirements Validation Matrix Information. CLV Umbilical Trade Matrix XLS. Vehicle interfaces for the DAC 1C version of Orion Ares. Ares I-X Test Flight Plan (full outline) Presentation. Ares I-X timeline and modification expanded info. Ares I Reference Trajectory. Boeing’s STS to Ares – Lessons Learned Presentation. CLV DAC-1C (Changes to CLV Upper Stage).

Ares I-X: 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. ATK figures on the 5-Seg Booster weight for CLV.

90 Minute Video of Constellation all hands meeting. Escape System Trade Study Presentation. CEV-CLV Design Analysis Cycle Review (DAC-2) Presentation. 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 much more (L2 Constellation over 180,000mb in size).

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