Ares I-X Vehicle Stacked for Launch

Ares 1-X undergoing assembly
Ares 1-X undergoing assembly


For the first time in more than a quarter-century, a new space vehicle will begin stacking on a mobile launch platform (MLP) at Kennedy Space Center, thanks to the hard work and dedication of an experienced team of employees from NASA and contractors United Space Alliance (USA) and Alliant Techsystems [NYSE: ATK].

The Ares I-X aft skirt, which was mated to a solid fuel segment in the Rotation, Processing and Surge Facility at KSC, rolled over to the 528-foot-tall Vehicle Assembly Building today, where it will be lifted and placed on the MLP in High Bay 3. On that platform, workers will secure the aft booster and continue adding segments of the first stage rocket, the upper stage simulators, the crew module mockup and the launch abort system simulator, taking the vehicle to a height of 327 feet.

Once complete, the Ares I-X rocket will roll to Launch Pad 39B for the first test flight of the vehicle later this year. This vehicle is part of NASA’s Constellation Program, which aims to send humans back to the Moon and beyond.

“We are excited to be a part of the NASA team working toward this important Ares milestone,” said Mark Nappi, Vice President of Launch and Recovery Systems for United Space Alliance. USA, NASA’s prime human spaceflight operations contractor, has been tasked by NASA with planning and processing for the test flight.

“Processing for the Ares I-X test flight in parallel with Space Shuttle operations has been a true challenge involving people and hardware from across the country. Working two human spaceflight programs in parallel is new territory for NASA and for its contractor partners, and we’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished,” Nappi added.

The Ares I-X test flight is aimed primarily at testing the performance of the first stage rocket.

“As we reach this critical processing milestone, we reflect on the tremendous amount of work this team has completed over the last three years,” said Robert Herman, Florida site director for ATK, NASA’s prime contractor for the Ares I first stage rocket. “We are honored to play a critical role in the future of America’s human space flight program,
and the Ares I-X flight test is the proof of concept that Ares I will build on.”

USA is teamed with ATK on the design, production and processing of the Ares I First Stage. Assembly and integration work on the Ares I-X aft skirt, forward assembly and fifth motor segment simulator, the deceleration parachutes, the thrust Vector control subsystem hardware and the avionics and pyrotechnics was performed at KSC. The four solid motor segments were delivered by ATK from its Utah facility. “It has taken a great team effort to get us to this point, and we are all looking forward to working together as we move to the next phase of the Ares I program,” Nappi said.