Agency's NextGen Manned Space Program Comes Together
NASA has signed a $1.8 billion contract with Alliant
Techsystems, known as ATK, located near Brigham City, UT for the
design, development, testing, and evaluation of the first stage of
the Ares I and Ares V launch vehicles.
This contract continues work that began on April 17, 2006, and
includes delivery of five ground static test motors, two ground
vibration test articles and four flight test stages, including one
for the Ares I-X test flight.
NASA awarded the cost-plus-award-fee contract to ATK on a
sole-source basis. The contract performance period extends through
December 31, 2014. First stage boosters for operational missions
will be purchased through a separate contract.
NASA tells ANN that ATK and its subcontractors possess the
unique engineering capabilities for successful design and
development of the first stage of the Ares I crew launch vehicle,
based on their current work providing space shuttle solid rocket
The SRBs are the only such systems manufactured in the United
States that possesses both the required capabilities and safety
margins necessary for the launch of a human-rated exploration space
The Ares I first stage will be a five-segment solid rocket
booster based on the four-segment design used for the shuttle. The
basic design will draw on current hardware, facilities and
manufacturing equipment qualified for human-rated solid rocket
The first stage will incorporate modifications to the current
booster that are unique to the Ares I architecture to meet higher
performance and reliability requirements for the Ares vehicles.
Modifications include the additional segment and new solid rocket
Ares I is an in-line, two-stage rocket that will transport the
Orion crew exploration vehicle to low Earth orbit. Orion will
accommodate as many as six astronauts. The first stage will consist
of the five-segment solid rocket booster. The second, or upper,
stage will consist of a J-2X liquid-oxygen, liquid-hydrogen engine,
a new upper stage fuel tank and associated avionics.
Ares V will enable NASA to launch a
variety of science and exploration payloads, as well as key
components, needed to travel to the moon and later to Mars. Ares V,
a heavy-lift launch vehicle, is currently projected to use five
RS-68 liquid-oxygen, liquid-hydrogen engines mounted below a larger
version of the shuttle's external tank and two five-segment,
solid-propellant rocket boosters for the first stage. The upper
stage will use the same J-2X engine as the Ares I.
The first stage is managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight
Center in Huntsville, AL for NASA's Constellation Program.