Final Newly Manufactured Segment Arrives at KSC for Ares I-X Launch

The Ares I-X team was very excited on Friday when the frustum rolled into the Assembly Refurbishment Facility at Kennedy Space Center, making it the final newly manufactured segment to arrive for this summer’s Ares I-X launch.

The frustum is the segment between the Forward Skirt Extension and the upper stage of the Ares IX launch vehicle.  As you can see, it looks a lot like a giant funnel. Its main function is to transition the flight loads from the thicker upper stage to the thinner first stage. It weighs in at approximately 13,000 pounds, and is 10 feet long. It’s composed of two machined, aluminum-forged rings that are attached to a conic section. The large diameter of the cone is 18 feet, while the small diameter is 12 feet. The thickness of the cone is only 1 ¼ inches! Kind of amazing.

Now that the frustum is at Kennedy, technicians will begin the final processing and it will be integrated to the forward skirt and forward skirt extension to make the forward assembly. The completed forward assembly will be moved over to the Vehicle Assembly Building for stacking operations scheduled to begin in April.

With the arrival of the frustum, the team now waits for the final rocket components to arrive — the motors. The rocket motors, manufactured by ATK in Utah and shipped via rail to Kennedy, are scheduled to arrive next month. 

6 thoughts on “Final Newly Manufactured Segment Arrives at KSC for Ares I-X Launch”

  1. Every item shown should show the price paid for it. This would help for clarity and give everyone an idea what our money goes into.

  2. Thanks for the blog post. Has a target launch date been set for the Ares I-X flight given the uncertain status of STS-119?

  3. The conical frustrum shows what appear to be two side by side solid rocket motors on the left and right hand side of it (180 degrees apart). I wondering they are the rockets used to make the first tumble after seperation so that it’ll decelerate to subsonic speeds after re-entry; to enable it to slow enough to deploy its’ pilot-chute?

  4. I felt compelled to respond to Money Bags comment.
    Science and space exploratation is the one place where I don’t care how much it cost. The benifits of such work far outway cost. Just look around you, there are so many things in our lives not to mention medical advances that have all come to us thru NASA.
    It’s one thing to bail out foolishly run corporations and to have them account for their actions, but NASA is NOT one of them. Leave them alone and a wealth of inginuity, technology and progress come from those dollars.
    They are the future, the best of the best. And I take great pride in the fact that with each new break-through discovery that the best of the USA and our partner nations will not be restrained by a dollar issue. This would surley hinder cutting edge science.

  5. Those rivets put me in mind of the steam engine boilers we used to manufacture in quantity in this country. This is probably the last manufacturing process to still use triple riveted seams. The Ares I is so long (with a high center of mass?) that control and stability must be an interesting problem. Thanks for these great pictures!

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