NASA Preps to Award Constellation Design Contracts

Ares and Altair design contracts to be awarded
Flight International

Design contracts for NASA’s Ares V cargo launch vehicle (CaLV) and its Altair lunar lander payload are to be awarded in the next few days and weeks.

Both are key to NASA’s plan to go to the Moon from 2020, and at the Space Foundation’s National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs from 30 March-2 April, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and Northrop Grumman told Flight International about how they could be engineered.

“There is no great advantage of dry composite structures on the core [stage],” says Lockheed Space System’s exploration systems vice-president Ronald Wetmore, referring to Ares V’s second stage. Composites are thought to save weight and improve performance and Wetmore was referring to a NASA/industry study that preceded the Ares V bids. The rocket’s super structure, without propellant tanks, is deemed to be dry. The tanks, because they hold fuel and oxidisers, are wet.

The study also investigated making the tanks composite, but as Boeing Exploration Launch Systems vice-president and Ares I upper stage production programme manager Jim Chilton says, that “could require more development time than we have”.

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