Even NASA seems to realize that the end is near for Ares I.
For more than a week now, engineers at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., including some working on Ares I, have been pulled from their current duties to study creation of a smaller version of the Ares V that could carry both crew and heavy equipment.
NASA confirms that it is looking at different versions of the Ares V, though a spokeswoman played down the significance of the review.
“This is nothing new, and as a part of these ongoing … studies the program continues to look at a wide variety of options on Ares V as is standard practice in formulation,” said NASA spokeswoman Ashley Edwards in a statement.
But NASA insiders and contractors familiar with the work say that the work is far from “standard practice” and could herald the demise of the Ares I.
“They are looking at a whole new launch architecture,” said one NASA contractor familiar with the study. “Although it’s still too early to pronounce Ares I dead, it is safe to assume that members of the committees have doubts about it.”
Gee, you think?