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
Stacking is set to begin for the Ares I-X vehicle on Wednesday, July 8 in the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center. It’s been a long time since the workers in the VAB have seen a new vehicle. In fact, it’s been 25 years since a new vehicle was stacked.
Following nearly three years of work by thousands of dedicated team members, the Ares I-X vehicle is ready for stacking on the Mobile Launch Platform, or MLP, in the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center.
Over the last week, the management team has met for reviews. Today, a “go” was given for the stacking operations. All of the modification work has been completed in VAB High Bay 3, as well as the Mobile Launch Platform, in preparation for the new Ares I-X vehicle.
Tomorrow, the Ares I-X aft assembly, composed of the aft skirt and aft motor segment, will be rolled from the Rotation Processing and Surge Facility to the VAB and lifted by overhead crane and placed on the MLP. (Be sure to check out the KSC gallery for photo updates.)
Over the next month, the stacking operations will continue with the additional motor segments, simulated upper stage segments and the vehicle will be completed when the simulated crew module and launch abort system is added to the top. (There will be a time-lapse camera. NASA will be posting video and images.)
We will keep you posted on this blog, on our Facebook page and Twitter.
Let the stacking begin!
Ares I-X hardware has the best nicknames.
These images show the Stack-5 Ground Support Equipment Lifting Fixture or as it is known to the I-X team, the “birdcage” being lowered over the Crew Module/Launch Abort System (CM/LAS) for a fit check. The birdcage is a metal framework that was collaboratively built and designed at the Langley Research Center in Langley, Virginia and Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It fits over the CM/LAS in order for it to be moved and stacked creating super stack 5.
The “birdcage” is bolted to the bottom of the crew module portion of the CM/LAS and then lifted into place (by one of the 325 ton overhead cranes in the VAB) and placed on top of the service module, which is already stacked on top of the Ares I-X rocket. Technicians can then remove the bolts — from inside the CM — and the “birdcage” is removed.
It takes a mighty big airplane to transport a 43-foot-long piece of hardware, not to mention a 16 foot wide, 7 foot tall simulation of the crew module that will take our astronauts to the moon.
The Ares I-X launch abort system (LAS) simulator rolled off an Air Force C-5 transport Jan. 28 after landing on the NASA Kennedy Space Shuttle runway. The LAS simulator, which represents the tip of the Ares I-X rocket, was designed and built at NASA Langley Research Center.
The Ares I-X crew module, in blue, and supporting hardware were unloaded after the two-hour flight from Langley to Kennedy.
The crew module and launch abort system simulators, wrapped in blue, took their place among other Ares I-X hardware in the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA Kennedy.
About the Author: Keith Henry serves as a Public Affairs Officer at NASA’s Langley Research Center.
Reporters gathered yesterday to see recently completed Ares I-X flight hardware on display at NASA Langley Research Center. The hardware, which was designed and built at Langley, is engineered to represent the outer surface of Orion crew module and a launch abort system that will increase crew safety on the Ares I rocket. Next week, the rocket hardware pieces will be shipped from Langley to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The simulated crew module and launch abort system will complete the nose of the rocket. As many as 150 sensors on the hardware will measure aerodynamic pressure and temperature at the nose of the rocket and contribute to measurements of vehicle acceleration and angle of attack.
The data will help NASA understand whether the design is safe and stable in flight, a question that must be answered before astronauts begin traveling into orbit and beyond.
See construction videos and images on the Ares I-X Web site.
Media Day Photo: While workers put the finishing touches on the Launch Abort System, left, and Crew Module simulators, reporters interviewed project officials and photographers and videographers captured the moment. The rocket elements are being placed on special flatbed trailers which will be rolled onto an Air Force C-5 for a two-hour flight to NASA Kennedy Space Center Jan. 28.