Ares V RFP: Looking for a Few Good Requirements

On Jan. 5, NASA issued a request for proposal for Phase I concept definition and requirements development for the Ares V heavy lift rocket. The Ares V is a key transportation system for exploration beyond low Earth orbit, as well as NASA’s primary vessel for safe, reliable delivery of large-scale hardware to space. It is a primary component of the Constellation Program to help carry human explorers back to the moon, then onward to Mars and other destinations in the solar system.

Ares V offers unprecedented payload capabilities — 40 percent more payload to Trans Lunar Injection (TLI) by itself than the Saturn V was designed to deliver.  In combination with Ares I, it can deliver nearly 60% more to TLI than Saturn V.  The Ares V increased payload and volume capability will make it the largest launch vehicle ever built as well as a national asset with potential users outside NASA. The astronomy, planetary science and Earth science communities already have shown interest in Ares V.

For such a large endeavor, the Ares team at Marshall has strategically solicited the help of other NASA programs, NASA centers, experts with experience going back to the Saturn and Apollo development, as well as industry expertise to create the best design possible for the nation’s next space craft to the moon and beyond. This desire for input from various areas of expertise is captured in the recent Ares V Request for proposal (RFP).

What’s in the RFP?
The Ares V Phase I solicitation includes five separate work packages available for bid. The packages include evaluation of specific Ares V elements including the payload shroud that will protect the Altair lunar lander during launch, the Earth Departure Stage, the core stage, and avionics and software. The products for these packages include assessing risks and opportunities for the point of departure (POD) architecture, trade studies and analysis, assessment of NASA requirements and a final report. The fifth work package includes a first stage concept for an upgraded solid rocket fueled booster. It will focus on exploring booster options and abilities to increase performance and operability.

Proposals are due Feb. 17. Contracts are slated to be awarded in March or April 2009. The period of performance for each contract is 18 months with two, one-year options. Multiple awards per element could be awarded.

NASA-led assessments, analysis and trade studies coupled with industry study packages will feed into the final POD architecture and element definition for Phase I. This work will enable the Ares V team to move to element prime contracts for Phase II in the 2012 timeframe.
What Does Phase I Include?

Phase I will focus on defining system level requirements, validating that they can be accomplished with maximum utility in regard to cost, reliability, operability and performance and reducing risk for design, development, test and evaluation (DDT&E).

In Phase I, NASA is engaging industry to assess our designs, identify risks and opportunities, and develop trade studies and analyses. This is to ensure we clearly define our concept of operations, requirements, interfaces, and design concepts for Ares V prior to prime contractor procurement activities.

Phase I will include contractor support to NASA design efforts through the Ares V Systems Requirements Review (SRR) in June 2011 and the System Definition Review (SDR) slated for spring 2012.

4 thoughts on “Ares V RFP: Looking for a Few Good Requirements”

  1. Ares V is truly magnificent and I can’t wait for more details to come in regards to actual contracts.

    In fact though I think Ares V is so good that has NASA ever considered dropping Ares I and going with a duel launch Ares V architecture?

    You could downsize Ares V to use 4 SSME’s for the core stage, use the current 5 segment SRB being designed for Ares I along with the J-2X for the upper stage and you’re looking at even more payload to TLI that the planned 1.5 architecture. You would get almost 17mt more to TLI over the 1.5 architecture and DIRECT.

    I’m not coming in here all gun hoe or anything 😉 but I’m just curious if NASA is still considering such a setup. I know in NASA’s original studies they were considering such an architecture but they didn’t want to have to air start an SSME for the second stage. Well low and behold we now have the J-2X for that and we can still use the SSME’s for the 1st stage since it looks like RS-68b will not be able to handle the heat.

    Any thoughts in regards to that?

    P.S To remove the gap that would be created going to a 2 Ares V launch architecture (since it would not be available until 2017 or so) an EELV could be man rated in the mean time with much less the cost of Ares I and much sooner. This way NASA secures cheap and easy access to LEO while bringing EELV folks into the fold, at the same time NASA gets to keep it’s iconic workhorse and the VSE is maintained.

  2. I hope I can come to the US to see the first Ares V fly, I remember watching Satern Vs on the telivision when I was a younger. To experience the focous of all that force in person is a personal goal, one of my friends have seen a Shutle lift off, but no one I know has seen enything like a Satern class heavy lifter fly.

  3. Hi
    I’m not an aerospace engineer but a few thoughts came to mind that if someone knowledgeable about the subject cares to answer, it would be welcomed.
    The phenomenal lifting capacity of the new Orion rocket system is truly a technological feat. In looking at some of the past triumphs of NASA it inspires idea’s for the upcomimg Contellation project. Two historical events come to mind. The main body of the Sky Lab space station was a modified upper third stage of the Saturn 5 rocket system. That, despite the mishap during the launch which damaged the solar array, not allowing the station to make full use of it’s equipment due to decreased electrical generation ability, still produced some good scientific work. Can we not think about this while running the Constellation missions? If we are going to invest the money in this program can we not think about dual purpose equipment? Perhaps a few design changes to the upper third stage of the Orion rocket would make it a usefull building block to a earth orbiting space station or a lunar orbiting space station. I fully realize that what I’m proposing is a stageringly complex task. Maybe it is worth taking a look at. If the internal mechanisms of the upper third stage were designed in a fashion that they could be removed during an EVA and other mechanisms inserted in their place. A few missions of the constelation program would give us a quite sizeable frame that is already in orbit, to work with. We all know that it is quite pricey to put a pound of cargo in orbit. If we have to put a third stage in orbit or nearly there it would be pragmatic engineering to look at the posibilties of multi purposes for each piece of hardware. Just a thought.

  4. I for one can not wait for the ARES to get off the ground. I think that splitting these programs between manned and cargo versions was ingenious in the best traditions of American inguinuity. Cargo won’t be limited to the g-limiting maneuvering of manned craft, and manned craft can be tailored just to do what is bare-bones necessary to get men up and back without having to babysit an attached payload bay. But I can only hope that we don’t get a lot of cases in space now of lost luggage. I go to more Shuttle launches than not, and will find Orion exciting, but not nearly so much so as the ARES launches. It will be interesting to see if trends hold and the public and media will give so much more attention to Orion, with people on them than the umnanned much more interesting and powerful versions that will meet the crew in space. We’re literally in unchartered territory here.

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