Test in Development of NASA's New Crew Rocket is Successful

Jan 30, 2009
A full-scale separation test of the forward skirt extension for the Ares I-X flight test at its facility in Promontory, Utah on January 29, 2009. (Image: NASA/ATK)

(PhysOrg.com) -- The development of NASA's next-generation crew launch vehicle, the Ares I rocket, took another step forward Thursday as Alliant Techsystems, or ATK, successfully tested a critical piece. ATK conducted a full-scale separation test of the forward skirt extension for the Ares I-X flight test at its facility in Promontory, Utah.

The Ares I-X test launch is scheduled to lift off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida during 2009. The rocket will climb about 25 miles in altitude during a two-minute powered flight. The launch will culminate with a test of the separation of the first stage from the rocket and deployment of the accompanying parachute system that will return the first stage to Earth for data and hardware recovery.

Yesterday's test simulated the separation event that will take place following the first stage flight of Ares I-X. During the Ares I-X flight, the booster will separate at the frustum, a cone-shaped piece that attaches the first stage to the larger diameter upper stage.

"The Ares I-X team is pleased with the completion of this key test that will provide important data leading up to the launch of the Ares I-X flight," said Steve Davis, deputy mission manager for the Ares I-X test flight at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

At an altitude of about 15,000 feet, the nose cone will be jettisoned, deploying the pilot parachute. The pilot chute will, in turn, deploy the drogue parachute, which will re-orient the booster vertically and slow it to acceptable conditions for main parachute deployment. At about 4,000 feet, the separation at the base of the forward skirt extension occurs, pulling out the three main chutes packed inside.

Test objectives included demonstrating that the linear shaped charge used to separate the forward skirt extension severed cleanly and measuring the shock created by that charge. NASA will use the data analyze the system and prepare for the Ares I-X flight test and the development of the Ares I crew launch vehicle.

The forward skirt extension is built to withstand the loads of the first stage and support the weight of the upper stage. The component is built as one solid piece of aluminum forged into a 6-foot-long by 12-foot-diameter cylinder with a unique internal support structure that houses three newly-designed main parachutes. Its state-of-the-art design will withstand the force imparted at main chute deployment.

"This was an important milestone for the program, as it validates key parameters to support the upcoming Ares I-X flight test," said Mike Kahn, executive vice president of ATK Space Systems. "The program is one step closer to the flight test of Ares I-X."

Provided by NASA

Explore further: Two Galileo satellites lose their way

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

CHESS rocket to study birthplace of stars

May 28, 2014

Update - May 27, 2014: NASA successfully launched the Colorado High-resolution Echelle Stellar Spectrograph, or CHESS, payload aboard a Black Brant IX suborbital sounding rocket at 3:35 a.m. EDT on May 24 ...

Proposed Mars 'Icebreaker' mission detailed

Apr 18, 2014

Scientists supported by the Astrobiology Technology for Exploring Planets (ASTEP) and Astrobiology Instrument Development Programs (ASTID) have outlined the proposed 'Icebreaker' mission to Mars in a recent ...

Sounding rocket to study active regions on the sun

Aug 02, 2013

(Phys.org) —At NASA's White Sands Test Facility in Las Cruces, N.M., a sounding rocket is being readied for flight. Due to launch on Aug. 8, 2013, the VERIS rocket, short for Very high Resolution Imaging ...

NASA scientists build first-ever wide-field X-ray imager

Feb 07, 2013

(Phys.org)—Three NASA scientists teamed up to develop and demonstrate NASA's first wide-field-of-view soft X-ray camera for studying "charge exchange," a poorly understood phenomenon that occurs when the ...

Recommended for you

Two Galileo satellites lose their way

2 hours ago

Two European Galileo satellites launched as part of a navigation system designed to rival GPS have failed to locate their intended orbit, launch firm Arianespace said Saturday.

SpaceX rocket explodes during test flight

11 hours ago

A SpaceX rocket exploded in midair during a test flight, though no one was injured, as the company seeks to develop a spacecraft that can return to Earth and be used again.

Amazing raw Cassini images from this week

Aug 22, 2014

When Saturn is at its closest to Earth, it's three-quarters of a billion miles away—or more than a billion kilometers! That makes these raw images from the ringed planet all the more remarkable.

Europe launches two navigation satellites

Aug 22, 2014

Two satellites for Europe's rival to GPS were lifted into space on Friday to boost the Galileo constellation to six orbiters of a final 30, the European Space Agency (ESA) said.

SpaceX gets 10-year tax exemption for Texas site

Aug 22, 2014

Cameron County commissioners have agreed to waive 10 years of county taxes as part of an agreement bringing the world's first commercial site for orbital rocket launches to the southernmost tip of Texas.

User comments : 0