Managers reevaluating Ares I-Y flight test

Constellation program managers agreed to reevaluate the proposed Ares I-Y flight test during an Oct. 30 Control Board and plan to take the decision up the ladder to management at NASA Headquarters soon. The decision could result in the removal of the Ares I-Y flight from the manifest in order to better align test flights with evolving program objectives.

 

As part of the program’s ongoing review of its ground and flight test strategy, managers evaluated the flight test plan and decided that the Ares I-Y flight fell too late in the vehicle development phase to provide useful information and lacks key elements to make it a true validation of the flight vehicle’s systems.

 

Originally, the I-Y test was defined as an incremental “placeholder” and planned for 2012.  It was to be a suborbital flight to test a five-segment booster, a flight production upper stage — without a J-2X engine — a functional command module and launch abort system and a simulated encapsulated service module.

 

By fall 2008, program managers were already looking at changing direction for the Ares I-Y test to improve the overall program’s chances of flying a full test vehicle by 2014. Now, with the Constellation Program nearing its preliminary design review and with maturing vehicles and systems, managers agree the I-Y test objectives can be achieved through other tests already in the manifest.

 

For example, the ascent abort test for Orion’s Launch Abort System can be incorporated into abort tests planned at White Sands Missile Range in 2012 and 2013 and on the first Orion flight in 2014. The ascent test will document the performance of the LAS in the event control of the launch vehicle is lost after first stage separation.

 

Removing the Ares I-Y flight test eliminates a unique vehicle configuration that must be designed and managed separately from the objective designs of Ares and Orion. It allows the team to focus on achieving a first launch of a thoroughly verified system and represents a tightening of the program as a function of its maturation that will ultimately save money needed for other tests.

 

“It simply does not fit where we are headed,” said Jeff Hanley, Constellation Program manager and chairman of the Control Board. “The test vehicle was intended to meet evolving needs but the current configuration is too different from what the program requires to certify the Ares/Orion vehicle systems.”

 

The current Constellation manifest shows the Ares I-Y flight test scheduled in March 2014, just a year out from the proposed first crewed flight Orion 2, planned in 2015.

 

Managers are also considering other options including a flight test that would fly in 2012 or 2013 that would have revised flight test objectives to better support vehicle development.

5 thoughts on “Managers reevaluating Ares I-Y flight test”

  1. Given the staging problem & the parachute problem in Ares 1-X, you’d think there would be more full stack tests, not less. Guess bankers come first.

  2. Why not fly an early Ares 1 in 2012 with 5 segment SRB and an old Apollo J2 engine, aren’t there a few working units available you have been using for testing?, on a flight ready upper stage ASAP with either an early version of Orion capsule or just a dummy capsule/service module on a long sub orbital flight? The 5 segment SRB obviously works and isn’t the J2X engine the longest lead item? That way you could flight test the 5 segment SRB, the upper stage in controlled flight and separation of upper stage and Orion service module in a couple of years, say mid 2012. If that all worked your 90% of the way into orbit in 2 years and all you are then waiting for is the J2X and Orion service and command modules. Remember Saturn 5 flew all stages live on its first flight. Space Shuttle carried humans on its first flight. Stayed up to 3am watching Ares 1X, awesome launch. Cracked up laughing over the 5 hole sock problem.

  3. It’s a prudent move. However, with a re-evaluation of the test objectives and manifest, I would think that the first test of the crewed Orion shuld be able to be undertaken in late 2013, not 2015. The lead times are too long and we should be back on the moon by 2015 and to mars, by 2020. Resources and concerted effort could be the difference. A solid, safe, efficient, and cost effective vehicle and exploration equipment and goals and milestones to the moon and mars can be accomplished within this timeframe. We have the technology and we need to go for it.

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