Ares-1-X: failed load test?

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docm

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Ares-1-X is a test flight slated for 2009. Many think it's more show than go, in other words a PR opportunity, but nevertheless it's to be launched with a dummy 2nd stage and dummy Orion and so an opportunity to test the interstage etc. <br /><br />If true those who looked at the Ares I and thought it might snap in two at launch may have been right. <br /><br />The post speaks for itself;<br /><br />A troubling post on NasaSpaceFlight.com .....<br /><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>kraisee<br /><br />Offline<br />Expert<br />Posts: 3285<br />Location: Cape Canaveral, FL<br /><br /><font color="yellow">I've been able to confirm from CxP sources that a test occurred earlier this month on some dynamic load hardware planned for Ares-I-X - and that <b>the test failed.</b></font><br /><br />It appears to be either the InterStage or the Forward Frustum for the SRB which was undergoing load tests, and that the unit in the test failed structurally while only experiencing "nominal" flight load conditions - not even while experiencing the extra-high loads which testing would usually expect to safely push such hardware to so as to ensure the required additional safety margins.<br /><br />I'm trying to get clearer information at present (difficult with everyone on vacation!) so wanted to ask on here for any information from the many folk reading these forums to help shed some light on this.<br /><br />I do find it interesting that such a failure occurred in precisely the location folk inside Constellation have been warning about here on NSF for a year and a half though. Being such a "known" issue, you'd think they would have made it strong enough by now in time for physical testing prior to test flight...<br /><br />Ross.<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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qso1

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This kind of test failure is exactly what is needed to ensure the acual system will be much more robust when operational. Much can be learned as to why the failure occured and corrective measures can be implemented for future tests and operations. I would point out that just because it looks like a stick does not necessarily mean it will break like one. Remember the Titan II? <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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docm

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Sorry, but there's something about a much smaller diameter 1st stage than the 2nd that screams 'unbalanced load', as in it's far more likely to have an oopsie with the interstage/frustrum than the inverse arrangement. Same reason you don't stand pyramids on their points. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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qso1

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On the face of it thats true...at one time a forward swept wing aircraft made little sense and was beyond the reach of technology. Then the X-29 was developed and it had to be computer controlled to make it fly, as it was inherantly unstable. But fly it did. Having a rocket like the stick ought to actually be less challenging than aircraft with forward swept wings or lacking rudders. A possibly inherantly unstable rocket but one thats stability can be compensated for by well thought out design. A process that inevitably encounters failures in the test program. These failures either show the concept not to be practical, or they lead to lessons learned and an operational design.<br /><br />If the subject of the thread had been Ares 1 passes load test...this would no more mean the Ares 1 is a good design than having a test failure confirm bad design. More work needs to be done. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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propforce

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My reply on NSF<br /><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>Propforce<br /> Posted 27/12/2007 9:45 PM (#227408 - in reply to #227161) <br /> Online<br />Sky is NOT the limit !!<br />Posts: 563<br />Location: CONUS <br /><br /><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>kraisee - 26/12/2007 8:11 PM<br /><br />It appears to be either the InterStage or the Forward Frustum for the SRB which was undergoing load tests, and that the unit in the test failed structurally while only experiencing "nominal" flight load conditions - not even while experiencing the extra-high loads which testing would usually expect to safely push such hardware to so as to ensure the required additional safety margins.<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br />Ross.<br /><br />Yes, please first confirm if this is true.<br /><br />If it is, then someone needs to check the loads used for the design and if it's consistent with what was used on the stress analysis reports. Sometime because of the hectic design 'iterations', what was used for 'loads' in design & analysis may have been several iterations "old". I understand that, from talking to the MSFC Ares 1US guys, that the 'flight dynamic loads' changes constantly and they were having a hard time keeping track of which design goes with what loads.<br /><br />If they are consistent, then it would appear that MSFC engineers were too agressive trying to take weight out of the interstage. Remember the problem on the entire vehicle was over weight? HINT HINT .... Same problem that led them to a common bulkhead tank design (another HINT !)<br /><br />Ed is right, it's better to find this out on a shaker table than in flight. Antares is also correct that this is Ares 1X, has nothing to do with the real vehicle. But it does have to do with MSFC's design practice and how they would apply to Ares 1Y and later vehicles. Like it or not, MSFC engineers are beginning to learn about how to design a vehicle. Failures are a part of precursor t</p></blockquote> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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docm

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<font color="yellow">On the face of it thats true...at one time a forward swept wing aircraft made little sense and was beyond the reach of technology. Then the X-29 was developed and it had to be computer controlled to make it fly, as it was inherantly unstable.</font><br /><br />Yes, today you can make a lawnmower fly but that doesn't change the high loads on the interstage and that they had a high possibility to go unbalanced if the flight controls made corrections outside it's tolerances. <br /><br />That they had this failure is IMO a sign that they flat out blew it. If anything it should have been over-designed then trimmed for weight. Obviously it wasn't. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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qso1

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At this point, its still to early to write it off. If it continues to fail structural tests, then in all likelihood it will be abandoned. Flat out blowing it implies the NASA designers and engineers have no idea whatsoever as to how to design a rocket, or make mods to an existing design. While thats possible, it just seems unlikely. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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docm

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Isn't it true that NASA's engineers haven't actually designed a launcher since the STS? That hardly makes the <i>current</i> crew skilled/experienced rocketeers. True, they have contractor support...but I think we all know that the Ares I design has been top-down driven and not bottom-up as it should have been. Otherwise we would be asking when something like Direct 2 would fly. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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qso1

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Its hard for me sometimes to separate bias from fact. I noticed a lot of anti Ares bias on various SDC postings. I would say its true NASA/contractor engineers have not designed a launcher from the ground up and NASA engineers basically put out requirements to contractors rather than perform actual design work. But the existing Delta-IV and Atlas-V launchers have been extensively redesigned to the point they are barely recognizable as to their origins and they seem to work fine.<br /><br />In the 1970s, NASA engineers had no experience with reusable shuttles but they designed one under fairly strict budget conditions and while shuttle has been an economic disaster, it was technically, a success. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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propforce

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<font color="yellow">In the 1970s, NASA engineers had no experience with reusable shuttles but they designed one under fairly strict budget conditions and while shuttle has been an economic disaster, it was technically, a success. </font><br /><br />Correction. The shuttle was not designed by NASA.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />It was designed & built by contractors....<br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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qso1

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Hang on a sec...Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) was the agency that submitted hundreds of proposals for space shuttles during the phase "A" and "B" studies, including the final design which was eventually built. Last I checked, MSFC was part of NASA.<br /><br />NASA issues requirements to contractors who do the detailed design and manufacturing. After all, NASA is the agency that was tasked with building the shuttle. In shuttles case, NASA awarded contracts to Rockwell Intl. for the orbiter, Martin Marrietta for the ET and Morton Thiokol for the boosters and numerous subcontractors were awarded contracts for various subsystems.<br /><br />I do agree that contractors do the detail design and manufacturing once they know what the requirements are...but MFSC NASA issues those requirements and those requirements stem from basic design of the vehicle in the form of detailed concepts. Otherwise, what does the contractor have to go on? <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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propforce

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<font color="yellow">I do agree that contractors do the detail design and manufacturing once they know what the requirements are...but MFSC NASA issues those requirements and those requirements stem from basic design of the vehicle in the form of detailed concepts. Otherwise, what does the contractor have to go on? </font><br /><br />Contractors had experience designing and building these "systems", NASA does not.<br /><br />As far as issuing requirements go, pardon me if I sound condescending since I don't know your background, it was compiled as result of these "studies" -- again, most likely with significant input from contractors since they most likely performed the detail studies and submit results to NASA. <br /><br />Also, "requirements" are like onions, they have different layers with increasing level of details as you peel this "onion". NASA could very well issue a top-level requirement, e.g., a resusable manned launch system with X lbm of payload and 99.999% of predicted mission reliability, etc., then begin to issue various study contracts in order to understand the issues. The contractors then in turn study various concepts in details with analysis, design and even do some experiments to validate a few assumptions (solid vs. liquid rocket booster, flyback booster vs. parachute drop recovery, SSME on the orbiter vs. on the ET, etc.). All these results get fed back to establish requirements, then the next cycle of studies begin. Very often, it is the contractor themselves write the vehicle/ system specifications. Afterall, it was they who know the system the best. <br /><br />For example, did you know that the SSME specification was written by the engine builder itself (Rocketdyne)? NASA's role was to review & approve this document and brought it under configuration control. <br /><br />NASA's role has always been project management, not the technical design nor does it have the know-how to build things. The last "A" in NASA stands for "admi <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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holmec

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WOW! a failure so early.<br /><br />I suspect that the nature of Ares I is different than most other rockets that have a liquid fuel core and in there may lie the problem. Isn't this the biggest solid fuel first stage that's a core?<br /><br />How does this affect the other parts like the instument unit and the spacecraft adapter (from the NASA Ares I fact sheet) <br /><br /><br /><br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#0000ff"><em>"SCE to AUX" - John Aaron, curiosity pays off</em></font></p> </div>
 
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kyle_baron

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<font color="yellow"><br />At this point, its still to early to write it off. If it continues to fail structural tests, then in all likelihood it will be abandoned.</font><br /><br />You still want to turn this Lemon into Lemonade? Five free standing 0-ringed segments, ready to split a part at any moment, durring launch? Time to squash this Lemon. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font size="4"><strong></strong></font></p> </div>
 
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centsworth_II

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<font color="yellow">"...Time to squash this Lemon."</font><br /><br />Yay! More money for unmanned (real) exploration!<br /><br />Seriously, without a big boost to NASA's budget, it doesn't look good. I <br />would guess that most every "fix" would involve increased booster weight <br />and decreased payload capability. And starting from scratch should get us <br />back to manned flight by 2030 or so with the current budget.<br /><br />They just better not touch the half of the NASA budget devoted to<br />real space science! I mean it.... really. <img src="/images/icons/mad.gif" /><br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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centsworth_II

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<font color="yellow">"Throwing more money won't give engineers more experience..."</font><br /><br />Yes it would. It would allow for more testing and modeling. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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centsworth_II

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Before experience comes education and experience comes with<br />project work. This is why I'm amazed at the shortsightedness of<br />politicians who champion improvements to the education system as<br />the way to keep the USA on top and them propose to pay for those<br />improvements with cuts to hard science programs. <br /><br />I would say that most of the experience that is now leaving the<br />system was forged at government expense in war and cold war<br />programs. Politicians should see the importance of funding programs <br />in cutting edge technology: development of technological experience. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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radarredux

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We are largely operating in a vacuum here (no pub intended), so it is hard to draw any serious conclusions from the supposed failure. But it does add more grist for the mill for those wanting to kill Ares I. I sure hope Ares V development goes better.
 
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centsworth_II

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<font color="yellow">"(no pub intended)"</font><br /><br />I bet some of those involved in the trouble shooting are ready for a pub!<img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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propforce

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<font color="yellow">How does this affect the other parts like the instument unit and the spacecraft adapter</font><br /><br />It does not. <br /><br />It's a part of learning curve that NASA must go thru. Every major development programs will have failures like this, even if it's designed by Boeing or Lockheed Martin (see my post above). <br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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propforce

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<font color="yellow">without a big boost to NASA's budget, it doesn't look good.</font><br /><br />The "big boost" on NASA's budget comes from shutting down the Shuttle program, that is when the Ares program will receive the big boost in funding. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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propforce

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<font color="yellow">WOW! a failure so early. </font><br /><br /><br /><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>Failures are a part of precursor to success.<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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bobblebob

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You could argue Nasa will learn alot more from a failure than a successful test. Is this the first real test of the Ares?
 
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frodo1008

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I was originally for the Ares I development by NASA as opposed to using the EELV's that were/are currently available. However, that was when NASA was going to use the already available four segment SRB, and the venerable SSME. The four segment SRB was already a very known propulsion system, and was also relatively inexpensive as its development was already paid for. While building new SSME's was not going to be as inexpensive as the RS68 engines on the Delta IV, it would not have been as expensive as the original SSME's (and it may have been quite possible to make use of the twenty some currently already built SSME's for almost nothing!).<br /><br />However, then NASA finds out that they were going to have to build entire new propulsion systems (and yes I do like the idea of reviving the J2-S, but I will admit that even that is going to cost some additional funds to redevelop it).<br /><br />However, when ATK comes up with a cost of some $3+ billion just to go from a four segment to a five segment SRB, I am relatively infuriated! NASA is going to spend at least $5 billion on the propulsion systems alone for this craft, and knowing from personal experience what the eventual costs of such projects turn out to be it may well end up costing at least $10 billion for just these systems alone!<br /><br />At this point it looks far less expensive for NASA to use the Delta IV (or the Atlas V, if congress can be made to buy Russian engines, but I doubt it). The beauty of the Delta IV is not only that it is NOW available without the enormous expense of a learning curve for NASA, and already basically paid for by the American taxpayer when the EELV was developed by the Air Force (at FAR less cost for the ENTIRE vehicle than NASA proposes for just the propulsion units!).<br /><br />We are no longer in the cold war, and competing with the Russians, which basically gave NASA a blank check in the 1960's. NASA can indeed afford both a great science program, and go back to the moon (a
 
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propforce

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frodo, I think you will like the concept proposed by a few guys over at NSF website called the DIRECT, using existing shuttle 4 segment SRB, ET and RS-68 engines. They just gave a 131 page paper at the AIAA SPACE conference here in Long Beach earlier this year.<br /><br />I too do not think NASA is approach this right with the Ares 1, but I think it is fair to say regarding to this "test failure" that it is a part of learning curve. One could expect some failures on any major LV development program. How many SSME turbopumps did you guys blew up during its development days? <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /> It just seems that, in this case, it will come sooner and more will come, due to the INEXPERIENCE of MSFC engineering design team.<br /><br />You see, they are learning the difference between reading powerpoint charts and give contractor a hard time vs. having actually doing it themselves !!! <img src="/images/icons/laugh.gif" /> <br /><br />I expect MORE failures coming. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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