Model of Ares I-X at Kennedy
Space Center Launch Pad 39B
NASA’s Glenn Research Center has a rich history
of leading rocket engine and propellant technology development. For
nearly 30 years, Lewis (now Glenn) managed the design, construction
and launch of the Centaur upper stage vehicles with the Atlas and
Titan first stage vehicles. Glenn was also responsible for the management
of the Agena upper stage vehicle. Their expertise in upper stage rocket
boosters made significant contributions to Saturn V rockets, Apollo
lunar landing missions and Space Shuttle missions.
Glenn was selected to play a significant role in
the development of the Ares I Project. Within the Constellation Program,
the Ares I two-stage launch vehicle will transport the crew aboard
the Orion spacecraft to the International Space Station, the moon,
Mars, and beyond.
The Ares team at Glenn is leading several areas in
support of Ares I including building and testing flight hardware in
support of the Ares I-X flight test, which is managed by Marshall
Space Flight Center with additional support from Langley Research
Center and Kennedy Space Center. The Constellation Program Office
at Johnson Space Center provides overall flight test coordination.
The flight hardware to be built by Glenn includes several vital components
of the structural test model.
Scheduled for April 2009, Ares I-X will be the first
test flight of the new U.S. launch vehicle system that will replace
the Space Shuttle. The test flight objectives are focused on first
stage flight dynamics, controllability, and separation of the first
and upper stages.
Elements of Testing Performance
During this first flight, the performance and dynamics
of the vehicle’s solid rocket booster (SRB) will be verified
while it is flying for the first time in a “single stick” configuration.
(This configuration is unique since the usual shuttle configuration
includes two SRBs attached to either side of the external fuel tank.)
The SRB will be flown through the first stage with four live segments.
The fifth segment simulator will be flown empty, without propellant.
Ares I-X will also test the performance of the Upper
Stage Mass Simulator, which will be similar in shape and equal in
total mass to the actual upper stage. Since the actual upper stage
hardware can not be produced in time for the flight test, the Upper
Stage Mass Simulator will allow the booster to fly approximately the
same trajectory through the first stage of flight.
Areas of Design, Manufacturing and Testing
Glenn is utilizing its in-house workforce and on-site
facilities to design, manufacture and test the following components
for the Ares I-X flight test vehicle:
- Upper Stage Mass Simulator (including the Interstage
or lower part of upper stage that allows the booster to separate
from the rest of the vehicle after the booster flight ends)
- Service Module
- Spacecraft Adapter
- Installation and test of avionics components provided
by the Marshall-led Avionics Elements (instrumentation, electrical
By performing the work in-house, Glenn’s
design and manufacturing efforts will lower overall mission cost
and save schedule time to help enable the project to achieve the
April 2009 launch schedule.
Supporting significant Ares activities allows Glenn to make a valuable
contribution to the next launch vehicle system, which will serve
the U.S. space program for several decades. By working with other
centers, they are helping to build better partnerships for collaboration
on future development efforts. Additionally, the skills and abilities
of Glenn personnel involved in Ares I-1 activities are sharpened
as their efforts are focused on the goal of delivering the necessary
hardware in time for the flight test.