Here’s a quick update from Ares I-X Mission Manager, Bob Ess
Earlier thisweek, the I-X and Constellation team completed a really significant milestone –aMate Review. The purpose of this review is to assess our readiness tobegin stacking operations in the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy SpaceCenter.
Right now theAres I-X rocket is put together in big pieces called “super-stacks”. Webegin our stacking operations when we put the first part of the first stagebooster on the Mobile Launch Platform. We’ll follow that with these five“super-stacks”.
During the review, wediscussed the mission’s progress to date, key technical and operational itemsand, of course, the readiness of the procedures and facilities for the stackingoperations. This review was attended by members of the Constellation Programand directors of the involved NASA centers as well as independent (outsideNASA) reviewers.
The review went very welland the review board agreed on a set of procedural guidelines and next-stepactions. The mating (stacking) of the aft skirt on the MLP is the firststep in assembling I-X. As this is the foundation of our rocket, wehave spent a lot of time assessing our aft skirt and making sure it canadequately handle the needs for I-X. Some of that analysis is not quitecomplete so as a group we decided to wait until the middle of next week when weknow more about our loads analysis before we started this particular matingoperation.
Also at the Mate Review, weagreed upon a set of “constraints” that are mini-review points for some key to-doitems. This allows the team to get together and assure that sufficientprogress has been made on these items before we undertake some of the critical stackingevents. The constraints are mostly centered on the completion ofseveral ongoing loads analyses and the completion of some planned testing in theVehicle Assembly Building.
Overall, it was a very good,interactive review by the team and we are very please to have completed such amajor milestone. Based on our plans and the work we have ahead of us, we planon stacking the booster section in a couple of weeks and plan to have theentire vehicle stacked in August. It will really be something to see.
More to come…