Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Preps Hardware for First Ares I-X Flight


In preparation for NASA’s first Ares I-X test flight in August, engineers from Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne have finished pressurizing and loading 1,423 pounds of propellants into heritage hardware from the Peacekeeper missile system that will be used to help return humans to the moon by 2020.

“Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne is working with NASA to use existing military hardware for a new, non-defense application,” said Cy Bruno, Roll Control System program manager, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. “The Peacekeeper helped end the Cold War and now it is being used for our first step back to the moon.”

Under an agreement with Teledyne Brown Engineering, Inc., Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne will use hardware from the Peacekeeper missile program to provide rocket stability during NASA’s first Ares I-X test flight. The Roll Control System (RoCS) will keep the Ares I-X from rolling in a corkscrew motion during flight. The heritage hardware includes thrusters, propellant tanks and a pressurization system, which Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne built for the U.S. Air Force’s Peacekeeper missile system fourth stage during the Cold War. The Peacekeeper missile was decommissioned as part of the second Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty but was resurrected for the Ares I-X test flight system because it is reliable, available and able to handle the pulsing cycle needed for the test.

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne helped Teledyne Brown Engineering design the RoCS, which has two thrusters that will fire alongside the test rocket in short pulses to control the vehicle’s roll. After clearing the launch tower in a test scheduled at Kennedy Space Center in July, the Ares I-X rocket will be rolled 90 degrees to mimic the orientation that the Ares I rocket will use.