Launch Scheduled For This Summer
After a seven-day, 2,917-mile journey, a train carrying the four
motor segments for the Ares I-X rocket arrived Thursday at NASA's
Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The motor is the final hardware
needed for the rocket's upcoming test flight this summer.
The test flight will provide NASA an early opportunity to check
and prove hardware, analysis and modeling methods, and facilities
and ground operations needed to develop the Ares I, which is NASA's
next crew launch vehicle. The test also will allow NASA to gather
critical data during the ascent of the integrated stack, which will
help inform the design of the Ares I rocket and the Orion crew
exploration vehicle. The data will ensure the entire vehicle system
is safe and fully operational before astronauts begin traveling in
it to the International Space Station and moon.
The reusable segments departed March 13 from Promontory, UT
where Ares I first stage prime contractor Alliant Techsystems Inc.
"We have achieved a tremendous milestone with the arrival of the
segments," said Bob Ess, mission manager for Ares I-X at NASA's
Johnson Space Center in Houston. "For NASA personnel and contractor
teams throughout the country, this is the culmination of years of
hard work and dedication."
Ares I-X first stage uses a four-segment solid rocket motor capable
of generating 3.3 million pounds of thrust. The motor provides the
primary propulsion for the vehicle from liftoff to stage separation
120 seconds into the flight.
The motor segments for the flight test were taken from the
existing space shuttle solid rocket booster inventory. The booster
used for the Ares I-X launch is being modified by adding new
forward structures and a fifth segment simulator. These
modifications help NASA better replicate the size and shape of the
five-segment booster that will be used for the Ares I crew launch
"As we move toward a flight this summer, it is exciting to see
the final hardware arrive at the launch site," said Bob Herman,
ATK's Florida site director. "We are honored to play an important
role in helping NASA achieve its exploration goals."
Having arrived at Kennedy, the segments now will be transferred
to the center's Rotation Processing and Surge facility for final
processing and integration. The stacking operations are scheduled
to begin in the Vehicle Assembly Building in April.