Constellation confirm IOC slip to Orion schedule

by Chris Bergin

Two months after Constellation informed the workforce of an internal slip to opening element of the Orion flight schedule, manager Jeff Hanley has finally confirmed the realignment to the media.

As previously stated by Hanley, the projected launch of Orion 2 – which will be the first crewed Orion mission – isn’t expected to slip past March, 2015. However, the first crew rotation on the International Space Station with Orion 4 is – as a result – tracking March, 2016.

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Clarifying The Schedule:

Making several references to the five year gap, Hanley – along with fellow CxP manager Doug Cooke – focused mainly on the IOC (Initial Operational Capability) date for Orion 2, which is classed as the first manned test flight.

The 12 month slip is specific to the buffer zone between the IOC date and the commitment date. Previously, September 2013 was the IOC date, with 18 months of flexibility in the development schedule towards the commitment date of March, 2015.

This has now changed to six months of buffer zone, with the IOC date moving 12 months to the right, to September 2014 – confirming the content of Hanley’s memo to the workforce two months ago.

‘Since the program’s inception, NASA has been working an aggressive plan to achieve flight capability before our March 2015 target,’ pre-empted Rick Gilbrech, associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, in a statement surrounding the address to the media.

‘We are still confident the Constellation Program will make its first flight to the International Space Station on or before that date. Our new path forward better aligns our project schedules with our existing funds to ensure we can address the unplanned challenges that always arise when developing a complex flight system.’

However, while Orion 2 will be the debut flight of Orion with a crew onboard, the mission will not fulfil the role of re-establishing US capability for crew rotation on the ISS, which currently being achieved by shuttle and the Russian Soyuz vehicle.

With shuttle currently retiring in 2010, the US will rely solely on Soyuz for transporting astronauts to and from the ISS. This will continue until Orion reaches FOC (Full Operational Capability) on what is currently scheduled as Orion 4.

Constellation schedules have consistently shown the FOC date to be 12 months after the IOC date – thus, a commitment target of March 2015 for Orion 2 results in Orion 4 realistically tracking March, 2016, a real time gap of six years, a timeframe in which the US will only have Soyuz as a confirmed vehicle to rotate US astronauts on the ISS.

An additional factor may come via COTS (Commercial Orbital Transportation Services), if a manned solution can be gained via – for example – SpaceX’s Dragon capsule. Such an option remains limited by SpaceX’s ability to work through an ambitious development program that has already been hit by failures.

L2 Members: Refer to TAG keywords ‘Constellation’ ‘Orion’ ‘Ares I’ ‘COTS’ and ‘Schedules’ for expansive presentations, etc.

Thrust Oscillation Claims:

Mr Hanley and Mr Cooke also gave a positive overview of the development of the vehicle that will launch Orion in orbit, Ares I, even though their own CxP documentation shows wide-ranging engineering concerns.

Threats to the program milestones remain at the top end of risk matrix’s that are produced to overview the criticality of issues relating to the vehicle.

This is heavily exemplified with the Thrust Oscillation issue, which remains an ongoing mitigation process, given engineers still await real data on the effects the solid motor can have on the astronauts.

Such data will be forthcoming via a number of shuttle flights, Ares I-X and Ares I-Y, meaning a final solution to the issue is literally years away.

Down selection of concepts has, however, been taking place – as previously reported by this site – with Hanley appearing to confirm that the elaborate Active Pulse Thrusters (ATP) on the aft skirt of the vehicle is losing favor as a viable option.

Tuned Mass Absorbers, or Dampers, appear to be leading the forward plan. However, with Hanley adding the preference is for the active system, mass penalties to the vehicle will be substantial.

‘The team has identified a concept, which is a system that has an active element to it to sense what is going on with the vehicle, actually manipulate those mass absorbers to tune up with the offending oscillations,’ noted Hanley, who also referenced a potential concept that is installed to the outside of the vehicle.

Interestingly, down select mitigation presentations on such systems noted that the reduction of Thrust Oscillation was only within the parameters of ensuring the crew did not suffer health risks, but not to the acceptable point for the crew’s operational requirements.

It is still possible two mitigation techniques may be required to work in tandem to bring down the Thrust Oscillation effects to within acceptable levels – with actual flight data the key part of understanding the issue properly.

Sources working on the mitigation concepts insist no final decision has been taken at this time, as the current data on Thrust Oscillation is only available via computational models, as opposed to real flight data.

L2 Members: Refer to TAG keyword ‘TO’ for updates and expansive presentations.

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

Orion WEST in NBL Hi Res and Notes. 8th Floor News Updates. Ares V Alternative Engine Arrangement Presentation. Hi Res CxP Logos. Full (and very expansive) set of presentations on Ares/Orion mass and status report. Ares I ‘Parasorber’ TO migitation hardware presentation and animation. Ares I TO Risk Slides. Ares I Risk Status.

Hi Res Images of Ares I FS Parachute Test Vehicle (JDTV). 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. 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 195,000mb in size).

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