Mission: ARES I-X
|ARES Program Logo, Image Courtesy: NASA|
Current Location: Vehicle Assembly Building, High Bays 3& 4
Target Launch Date: August 30, 2009 (under review)
Payload: Upper Stage Simulator, Crew Module/Launch Abort System Simulator
Booster Set: BI-91L (Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster)
Launch Platform: MLP-1
Launch Pad: Pad 39B
Launch Vehicle Height: 327 Feet (approximately 2 feet shorter than the operational ARES I)
Liftoff Gross Weight: 1.8 million pounds (approximately .2 million pounds lighter than ARES I)
Processing, integration and checkout activities for the ARES I-X test flight are well underway at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. Flight test hardware began arriving in earnest last October with the final segments of the First Stage (FS) Booster having been delivered to KSC from the ATK plant in Utah last March.
In High Bay 4 of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) the “Tuna Cans” – the name given to the 11 segments that make up the Upper Stage Simulator (USS) because of their flat cylindrical shape – are being integrated with the Launch Abort System (LAS) Motor, Crew Module, Service Module and 5th Segment Simulators to form five “Super Stacks”. The Super Stacks will ultimately be stacked atop the first stage booster – a four segment solid rocket booster obtained from the space shuttle inventory – to make up the entire ARES 1-X Flight Test Vehicle.
As of this update, the LAS simulator has been mated to the Crew Module simulator, installation of the A & B Roll Control System (RoCS) modules has been completed, and installation of the Development Flight Instrumentation (DFI) is underway. A total of 972 DFI sensors will be installed in the LAS, Upper Stage, and Forward Skirt of the Booster.
Handover of MLP-1 (Mobile Launch Platform) from the Space Shuttle Program to the Constellation Program occurred on March 25 following the liftoff of STS-119 – the last shuttle mission to fly from that platform – and subsequent transporting of the MLP from Pad 39A to Pad 39B. MLP-1 spent a little over two weeks at Pad39B undergoing testing and validation prior to being moved to the Vehicle Assembly Building’s High Bay 3 where it will undergo modifications designed to adapt the platform for use by the Ares I-X Launch Vehicle.
At Pad 39B construction of the new 600 foot tall lightning protection system towers has been completed and the shuttle era lightning mast has been removed from the Fixed Service Structure (FSS). Additional pad modifications include the addition of a First Stage Avionics Module (FSAM) Access Platform, transformation of the existing Space Shuttle Gaseous Oxygen Vent Arm into an ARES I-X Upper Stage Simulator Access Arm and the addition of the Sway Damper/Stabilizer.
Conversion of the Launch Control Center’s Firing Room 1 is underway and a simulated launch countdown was conducted on April 17.
RECENTLY COMPLETED AND UPCOMMING MILESTONES:
Upper Stage Buildup – In work
Pad 39B Modifications – In Work
MLP-1 Handover form the SSP – Completed
MLP-1 Modification/Testing/Validation – Completed
MP-1 to VAB High Bay 3 – Completed
Start Booster Stacking – TBD
Upper Stage Stacking – TBD
Test Readiness Review (TRR) – TBD
Rollout to Pad 39B – August 27 (under review)
Launch – August 30 (under review)
|ARES I-X Flight Test Vehicle (FTV), Image Courtesy: NASA|
FLIGHT TEST OBJECTIVES:
- Demonstrate flight control system performance during first stage ascent
- Assess roll torque due to first stage motor burn characteristics and performance
- Characterize first and second stage separation dynamics
- Evaluate booster parachute recovery system
- Develop and Validate processing, integration, launch and recovery operations
FLIGHT PROFILE SUMMARY:
Liftoff: Standing approximately 327 feet tall and weighing nearly 1.8 million pounds, the ARES I-X Launch vehicle will begin to rise vertically until clear of the launch umbilical tower (Fixed Service Structure).
Tower Clear: Once the launch vehicle has cleared the tower (LUT/FSS) it will begin a 90 degree roll and pitch over maneuver.
Roll and Pitch Program: For ARES I-X the 90 degree roll is necessitated by the pre-launch orientation of the launch vehicle atop the mobile launch platform. ARES I-X is using the same hold-down posts used for the Space Shuttle’s left SRB (solid rocket booster) which results in the Z-axis of the I-X vehicle pointing south (i.e. crew heads and windows are facing south). Rolling 90 degrees after liftoff will orient the aerodynamic protuberances (such as the systems tunnel and booster sep motors), and exhaust nozzle actuators of the ARES I-X flight test vehicles in the same manner as is planned for an operational ARES I launch which will start with the Z-axis pointing east. In other words the 90 degree roll will give the ARES I-X a similar “angle of attack” (alpha) profile to that of an operational ARES I.
PTIs: Programmed Test Inputs (or PTIs) will be used during the ascent to assess and characterize roll torque and roll control system performance. The PTIs will consist of a combination of pitch and yaw inputs and periods of RoCS blackouts (i.e. Roll Control System thruster firings will be temporarily inhibited).
- SEP Sequence Initiated – When the measured acceleration of the launch vehicle reaches the point where its total thrust is less than 40,000 pounds the stage separation sequence will begin. Staging events for the ARES I-X occur in a slightly different manner and location (i.e. different separation plane) than on an operational ARES I. Staging occurs at just over 2 minutes after liftoff at an altitude of approximately 130,000 feet and a velocity of about MACH 4.7 – this is slightly earlier, slower, and lower than what is planned for operational ARES I launches.
- LSC Fires – A Linear Shaped Charge (LSC) will fire around the circumference of the vehicle between the Frustum and the Booster’s Forward Skirt Extension. Physical separation on an operational ARES I will occur in a different location. For an operational ARES I separation, the LSC will be located between the Upper Stage Aft Skirt and the Interstage.
- BDMs Fire – Four pairs of Booster Deceleration Motors (BDMs) located on the Aft Skirt of the Booster will fire to decelerate the First Stage Booster and help physically clear it from the Upper Stage.
- BTMs Fire – About 3 seconds after the BDMs fire the Booster Tumble Motors (BTMs) will fire to initiate a rotation of the First Stage Booster.
First Stage Booster Descent: Approximately 270 seconds after separation the Recovery Chute Deployment sequence will begin. A small pilot and drogue chute will deploy from the Forward Skirt Extension to help stabilize the booster for the deployment of the Main Parachute Support System (MPSS) a few seconds later. Located in the Forward Skirt, the three MPSS parachutes are larger modified versions of the Space Shuttle Booster Parachutes. Since the ARES I uses a 5 segment Solid Rocket Motor (as opposed to the standard 4 segment motors used for the Space Shuttle) it has more mass and requires a larger parachute for descent. Following the deployment of the chutes the First Stage will descend into the Atlantic Ocean where it will be recovered and transported back to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for evaluation and processing.
Upper Stage Uncontrolled Descent: After Staging the Upper Stage, Crew Module, and Launch Abort System simulators will continue a ballistic trajectory that will peak at about 150,000 feet. Following an “uncontrolled descent”, the entire integrated upper stage stack will impact in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 125 nautical miles (~ 144 statute miles) down range of the Kennedy Space Center.
|ARES I-X Mission Profile, Image Courtesy: NASA|