First Stage Segments Are on the Move


The first stage segments are just about ready to go. They have a long trip ahead of them from first stage contractor ATK’s facilities in Promontory, Utah to the launch site at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Last week, using specialty transporters, ATK moved the Center Aft Segment to a holding facility where it will be housed in preparation for the cross-country trek via railcar. Some one described these transporters as looking like something out of the Transformers movie and I don’t think that’s too far off. They are impressive looking vehicles.

That big black line you see running diagonally down the side is called a Z-stripe. The Z-stripe is a 24-inch wide stripe painted on the first stage motor segments that wraps from the top of the motor to the bottom.  The main purpose of the Z-stripe is to provide a way for the I-X team to determine the roll attitude and rate from footage recorded by cameras on the ground. That footage serves as a backup to on-board data gathered during the flight.  The Z-stripe will also provide confirmation that the rocket rolled 90° shortly after lift-off from the pad like it is supposed to. Measurement from watching the Z-stripe could be very helpful in the case that the flight goes differently than expected.

We’re expecting to ship the motor segments next month. They are the last few pieces of hardware to ship, so once they make it down to KSC, we’ll be ready to start putting the rocket together.

6 thoughts on “First Stage Segments Are on the Move”

  1. How can I send an email to the Mars Rover team telling them how grateful and proud I am of their accomplishments?

  2. Wondering about fact from fiction, I am wondering how close the fiction can become a reality. The technology by turning the semi-conductors that we measure the power of anti-matter. Why cant’t we incorporate that ability into a space craft. Use the magnetic fields to enhance the power slip stream the craft even faster than fuel.
    I realize you might say that the idea is out there, but we know that the magnetic power on trains make them go alot faster than they use to 40 years ago.
    Not only it would take some power, but we know alot more about partical acceleration than we use to. and having a super conductor on board of a space craft to move the craft further into space is not that out of reach?
    I am just thinking, and rather than use fuel that extinguishes itself in minutes. The particals could last hours.

  3. Thank you for posting this weblog and for the pictures. Before reading this weblog post I always wondered what the official name of the paint scheme on rockets was called. Now I know. Will the human-rated Ares I booster have a similar paint scheme?

  4. @ Michael from Georgia


    Yes, the Ares I first stage will also have a z-stripe.

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