Cape Canaveral FL (SPX) Mar 20, 2009
The train carrying Alliant Techsystems' four Ares I-X motor segments arrived at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, bringing together all of the final hardware required for the upcoming test flight this summer.
The reusable segments departed from ATK's facility in Corinne, Utah, Thursday, March 12 on their seven-day, 2,917-mile trip to Florida.
The segments were originally produced for the space shuttle and later transferred to the Ares I-X mission, providing cost savings and mission assurance. The segments were instrumented at ATK's Promontory facility with more than 100 channels of data.
Designed to be interchangeable and reusable, the solid booster cases on Ares I-X have supported 30 different shuttle missions during 16 years of successful space flight experience. Shuttle flight-proven cases will also be reused on the Ares I first stage.
"This is a historic moment for NASA, ATK, and our country," said Charlie Precourt, ATK vice president of Space Launch Systems.
"This test flight is the first step as we embark on a new journey of space exploration, but it is a step taken with a long heritage of experience as our guide."
The 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 propulsion for the vehicle from liftoff to stage separation 120 seconds into the flight.
The motor has a distinctive "Z stripe" paint design that enhances the ability of the test team to observe rolling motions during ascent, and tumbling motions during separation and deployment of the parachute. This will provide valuable flight data for NASA to verify models for the Ares I program.
To replicate the size and shape of the entire Ares I crew launch vehicle, the Ares I-X booster will launch with a fifth segment simulator; a newly developed forward skirt, forward skirt extension, and frustum; as well as simulated upper stage, Orion crew capsule, and launch abort system. The Ares I first stage recovery system will also be tested when the parachute system deploys during the Ares I-X flight test.
"With the arrival of the segments, we have achieved a tremendous milestone," said Bob Ess, NASA's mission manager for Ares I-X. "This is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication by NASA and contractor teams throughout the country."
The segments will be transferred to the Rotation Processing and Surge facility at Kennedy for final processing and integration. The stacking operations are scheduled to begin in the Vehicle Assembly Building in April.
This test flight will provide NASA an early opportunity to test and prove hardware, facilities and ground operations associated with the Ares I crew launch vehicle. It will also enable NASA to gather critical data during the ascent of the integrated Orion crew exploration vehicle and the Ares I rocket.
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