The Super Stack 1 assembly is now complete with the mating (stacking) of the forward assembly to the fifth segment simulator. Stack one is made up of eight individual pieces: interstages 1 and 2, the frustum, the forward skirt extension, the forward skirt and the aft, center and forward segments of the fifth segment simulator. It also includes two internal elements, the roll control system and the first stage avionics module.
All five super stack assemblies are now complete in High Bay 4 of the VAB and are ready for stacking on the mobile launcher platform in High Bay 3 later this month.
Just so you know, the reason the rocket is separated into these super stacks has to do with the height and weight of each piece for crane loads during lifting operations.
Super Stack 2: Upper Stage Simulator “Tuna Cans” segment 1
Super Stack 3: Upper Stage Simulator “Tuna Cans” segments 2, 3, 4, 5
Super Stack 4: Upper Stage Simulator “Tuna Cans” segments, 6, 7
Super Stack 5: Spacecraft Adapter, Service Module, Crew Module and Launch Abort System
Work continues as we put together the pieces of hardware for the Ares I-X flight test scheduled for later this year. Two of the newly designed and manufactured segments, called the forward skirt and the forward skirt extension, were joined together earlier this month in the Assembly Refurbishment Facility at Kennedy Space Center. They are two of sixteen pieces that have been put together so far. When we put all 26 pieces together, we’ll say we’ve got a rocket. So, in a way, I guess you could say we’re more than half way there.
The 16,000-pound forward skirt extension is a proof-of-concept, or demonstration of this prototype, that incorporates 18 months of design work and eight months of manufacturing. It’s made of an aircraft-grade aluminum structure and houses three newly designed parachutes that will bring the first stage of the Ares I-X to a safe splashdown about 150 miles out in the Atlantic Ocean, east of Cape Canaveral.
The 14,000-pound forward skirt is constructed entirely of the same kind of armored steel used on Abrams A-1 tanks and armored Humvees. It is designed to simulate the stage that will contain the Ares I first stage electronics and provide access to the top of the motor. It also contains two video cameras that will capture the main parachutes deployment. Once attached, this assembly will be joined to the frustum, another new segment made especially for Ares I-X, and then be moved to the Vehicle Assembly Building for stacking.