Transterrestrial Musings

Defend Free Speech!

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay

Site designed by

Powered by
Movable Type 4.0
Biting Commentary about Infinity, and Beyond!

« The Missing Word | Main | The Fascists Lose In Italy--Again »

PR Stunt Delayed

If this report is true, it looks like NASA is not going to hit its milestone of the first test flight of the Potemkin RocketAres 1-X vehicle planned for a year from now:

Ares I-X now has little chance of making its April, 2009 launch date target, initially due to the delay of STS-125's flight to October.

The first Ares related test flight requires the freeing of High Bay 3 inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) and Pad 39B - which will first host STS-125's Launch On Need (LON) rescue shuttle (Endeavour/LON-400) - being vacated for modifications ahead of Ares I-X.

However, a new problem has now come to light with the MLP (Mobile Launch Platform) that will be handed over from Shuttle to Constellation for the test flight. This problem relates to the stability of Ares I-X during rollout to the Pad.

The modifications to the MLP initially called for Ares I-X to be placed on one set of the existing Shuttle's Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) hold down posts, with a tower to be erected on the other set of hold down posts - with support for the vehicle between the tower and the interstage level.

When NASA changed contractors for the MLP work associated with Ares I-X, the design changed, omitting the adjacent tower, instead relying on three steel cables - 120 degrees apart - to help hold the vehicle steady during rollout.

Given the projected weight of the vehicle at rollout - with a heavy dummy upper stage - additional stability is now being called for, leading to a redesign of the MLP support structure.

In combination with the projected delay to handing over Shuttle resources post STS-125, internal scheduling is showing 60 to 90 days worth of delay to Ares I-X's projected launch date.

Gee, it's always something. Guess that's what happens when you come up with a new vehicle concept with a ridiculously high aspect ratio, that makes a whip antenna look positively zaftig. Has anyone ever had to use guy wires on a rocket before, or is this another proud first for our nation's space agency?

Anyway, as it goes on to point out, this probably will waterfall down through the whole schedule, further increasing the dreaded "gap." Not that it will matter that much, once the budget gets whacked in the next administration, regardless of who is president. But then, maybe if they'd come up with an implementation that actually appeared to have some relevance to peoples' lives, instead of redoing people's grandfather's space program, they'd get more public support, instead of ever less.

It's hard to see how this ends well, at least for fans of Apollo on Steroids. But it's mostly irrelevant to those of us who want to see large-scale human expansion into space. That will have to await the private sector.


0 TrackBacks

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: PR Stunt Delayed.

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Mark R. Whittington wrote:

Not to be mean of anything, but how often has SpaceX's Falcon been delayed? It seems to me that if the sole criteria for a program's success is meeting the original development schedule, we'll be waiting a very, very long time for the private sector to step up.

Rand Simberg wrote:

It seems to me that if the sole criteria for a program's success is meeting the original development schedule, we'll be waiting a very, very long time for the private sector to step up.

Well, if anyone had ever claimed that it was the sole criterion, you might have a point. But as usual, you don't.

Dennis Ray Wingo wrote:

Chris Bergin is reporting on L2 that the schedule for the 1-x mission has slipped three months and part of it is that the dummy upper stage is not going to be finished on time.

How many want to bet that the 1-x mission will not happen till 2010?

Paul Milenkovic wrote:

I just don't get this fixation with using an SRB as a first stage.

Again, this might be an oversimplification and a naive design, just as the Stick design is proving to be an oversimplification and a naive design. But why couldn't they just stick a bunch of RS-68 engines on a Shuttle ET, perhaps in a stage-and-a-half configuration like Atlas-Mercury, and get some reasonable payload into orbit? Or something like an ET, some rocket engines, and a pair of Delta IV Common Core Boosters in place of the SRB's?

Between the Delta IV CCB's, the RS-68, and the Shuttle ET, I don't see why you couldn't come up with families of clustered launch vehicles -- a kind of Delta IV Super Heavy. I know it is easy to talk about such configurations, but the whole Saturn program was based on such a principle. Or is there such a constituency for the SRB?

I mean heck, what ever happened to Shuttle C, to the Shuttle ASRM (a non-segmented version of the SRB)? NASA seemed like the had plans for years for Shuttle-derived boosters or for uprated Shuttles that were held in abeyance for lack of money, but now that they have money they seem to be going down these goofy paths.

George Skinner wrote:

Oh dear God, all of these issues that keep cropping up during detailed design! It's like this is a typical engineering project!! C'mon - as ill-considered as you might consider the Ares I design to be, nit-picking stuff like this just seems petty.

Rand Simberg wrote:

C'mon - as ill-considered as you might consider the Ares I design to be, nit-picking stuff like this just seems petty.

Not when many anticipated these issues ahead of time.

"A clever person solves a problem.
A wise person avoids it." -- Albert Einstein

FC wrote:

"I love those magnificent I-X rockets! The I-X rockets are my friends."

Pete Zaitcev wrote:

It seems to me that DIRECT is exactly what Paul Milenkovic was talking about a few comments above. Too bad it's not going to happen.

Edward Wright wrote:

I guess Mark hasn't noticed that his current political hero, John McCain, has said he will freeze NASA's budget.

Rather than giving them the $1 billion increase Mark has had hot flashes about.

It's odd Mark would not know this, since he and Oler claimed to be intimate space policy advisors to McCain. Unless, of course, they aren't. :-)

It looks like Mark and Bill are in the same boat: both fantasizing about fantastically expensive new programs while supporting Presidential candidates who would freeze or cut NASA spending. Neither of them seems to see the contradiction.

ShittingtonIsStillStupidAsShit wrote:

Just yesterday, Shittington was fooled into writing about something as obviously fake as an abortion art:

If Shittington doesn't have the I.Q. points to keep himself from jumping all over a hoax, no wonder Shittington can't piece together a cogent launch vehicle argument or see the contradictions between his political candidates and proposals.

What a shidiot...

Ed Minchau wrote:

SSSAS: if it's a hoax, then Iowahawk, Allapundit, and many others got taken in, too - and the student herself denies that it is a hoax. Now, until you can argue issues on their merits rather than tedious ad hominem, please remain silent.

Pete Zaitsev: yeah, DIRECT looks to be exactly what Paul is talking about above. It would certainly be using legacy hardware, with 100+ actual flight tests, rather than the Ares 1-X mockup - which would have one fewer segment in the SRB, a different grain mixture than the actual flight hardware, and so forth. If anyone asks "when is a test not a test", then one could answer by pointing to Ares 1-X.

Leave a comment

Note: The comment system is functional, but timing out when returning a response page. If you have submitted a comment, DON'T RESUBMIT IT IF/WHEN IT HANGS UP AND GIVES YOU A "500" PAGE. Simply click your browser "Back" button to the post page, and then refresh to see your comment.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on April 18, 2008 7:22 AM.

The Missing Word was the previous entry in this blog.

The Fascists Lose In Italy--Again is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Powered by Movable Type 4.1