Press Release

Building a New Rocket for the Nation: 95 California Firms Help NASA Build, Test, Fly America’s Next-Generation Ares I Launch Vehicle

By SpaceRef Editor
September 15, 2008
Filed under , , ,
Building a New Rocket for the Nation: 95 California Firms Help NASA Build, Test, Fly America’s Next-Generation Ares I Launch Vehicle

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The Ares I rocket, America’s next flagship in space, is now in development by NASA and its industry partners, and soon will carry human explorers and new missions of discovery to the moon and beyond. And California workers are helping make it happen.

Planning and building the Ares I, the first launch vehicle in NASA’s robust, next-generation Constellation Program fleet, is truly a national effort, supported by more than 200 companies in 32 states and Puerto Rico, including 95 California firms working on every major Ares I project.

Eight California companies support NASA’s Ares I First Stage Project. One supports NASA’s Ares I Upper Stage Project. Another 86 work on NASA’s Ares I Upper Stage Engine Project.

Ares I contracts in the state have a combined value of more than $409.5 million.

“California companies and contributors across the nation are providing critical engineering expertise, hardware and materials fabrication and testing and a wide spectrum of support services,” said Steve Cook, manager of Ares Projects at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. “Their work ensures that NASA will, in the next decade, successfully fly the Ares I rocket to orbit to support the International Space Station and send Americans back to the moon, preparing the way for rewarding new journeys of discovery throughout the solar system.”

The 165-foot-long Ares I first stage, the backbone of the integrated launch vehicle system, is a five-segment solid rocket booster derived from the space shuttle’s twin boosters, enhanced and reconfigured to produce greater thrust. Burning more than 1.3 million pounds of propellant in just 125.8 seconds, the first stage will propel the rocket to an altitude of roughly 36 miles before being jettisoned. As the Ares I upper stage engine ignites, the first stage will deploy parachutes and gently drop into the sea for recovery, analysis and reuse.

The 84-foot-long Ares I upper stage is propelled by a J-2X main engine fueled with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. The J-2X is an evolved variation of two historic predecessors: the powerful J-2 engine that propelled the Apollo-era Saturn IB and Saturn V rockets, and the J-2S, a simplified version of the J-2 developed and tested in the early 1970s but never flown.

The J-2X will operate for approximately 465 seconds, burning more than 302,200 pounds of propellant, and shut down when Ares I reaches an altitude of roughly 83 miles. The Orion crew exploration vehicle then will separate from the upper stage, and its own engine will fire to insert the spacecraft into low Earth orbit. The upper stage will reenter Earth’s atmosphere and splash down in the Indian Ocean.

NASA’s Constellation Program fleet — now more than four years into development — includes the Ares I, the Ares V heavy cargo launch vehicle and the Orion spacecraft. The Ares V will serve as NASA’s primary vessel for safe, reliable delivery of large-scale hardware to space, including the Altair lunar lander, also now in development, and supplies needed to establish a sustained human presence on the moon. The Orion will safely ferry a crew of four to six astronauts to a variety of destinations in space.

The first Ares I test flight, called Ares I-X, is scheduled for 2009. The first crewed launch of the Ares I rocket is planned for no later than 2015, and NASA plans to send the first missions back to the moon around 2020.

“We’re proud to help continue the nation’s tradition of leadership in space,” Cook said. “Since NASA’s creation 50 years ago, our endeavors have yielded or inspired technology innovations that enrich nearly every commercial industry and benefit Americans and people around the world in countless ways. Our team effort on Ares I will continue that legacy, and also help to stimulate our economy and reignite the country’s passion to journey to worlds beyond our own.

“It takes a nation to build a rocket,” Cook added. “This is the rocket that will inspire our nation.”

The Marshall Center manages Ares Projects for NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate in Washington. The Constellation Program Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston leads the next-generation launch vehicle development program.

Three prime contractors lead NASA’s Ares I effort for industry. NASA awarded the contract to lead the Ares I First Stage Project, valued at approximately $1.8 billion, to Alliant Techsystems (ATK) of Minneapolis in August 2007. The Boeing Co. of Huntsville, Ala., was awarded Ares I contracts valued at approximately $2 billion — $1.2 billion for the Upper Stage production contract, awarded in September 2007, and $800 million for the Ares I Upper Stage Avionics Unit, awarded in December 2007. The contract for the Ares I Upper Stage Engine Project, valued at approximately $1.2 billion, was awarded to Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Inc., of Canoga Park, Calif., in June 2006.

For more information about Ares I and the Constellation Program, visit:

The current list of California companies follows:

  • NASA’s Ares I First Stage Project
  • BD Systems Inc. (Torrance)
  • Goodrich Corp. (Fairfield)
  • Butler International (El Segundo)
  • Kirkhill-TA Co. (Brea)
  • Cytec Engineered Materials Inc. (Orange)
  • SGL Carbon Composites Inc. (Gardena)
  • Force Measurement Systems (Fullerton)
  • Votaw Precision Technologies (Santa Fe Springs)
  • NASA’s Ares I Upper Stage Project
  • Hampton Scott Group LLC
  • NASA’s Ares I Upper Stage Engine Project
  • A&S Case Co. (North Hollywood
  • Maroney Co. (Northridge)
  • Accurate Tube Bending Inc. (Newark)
  • Marway Power Systems (Irvine)
  • Aerospace USA Inc. (Fullerton)
  • MCM Fabrication Inc. (Shafter)
  • Airdrome Parts Co. (Long Beach)
  • Micro West Tech Inc. (Chatsworth)
  • Airtek Engineering Services (Tarzana)
  • Midcom Corp. (Anaheim)
  • Allan Aircraft Supply Co. (North Hollywood)
  • Mitech Controls Inc. (Yorba Linda)
  • Altemp Alloys Inc. (Orange)
  • Mjollnir Metallurgical (Atascadero)
  • Anixter Pentacon Inc. (Chatsworth)
  • Moeller Manufacturing & Supply Inc. (Anaheim)
  • Arcturus Manufacturing Corp. (Oxnard)
  • Mooney Industries Precision (Canoga Park)
  • Artcraft Welding Inc. (Campbell)
  • Morgan Advanced Ceramics Inc. (Hayward)
  • Beranek Inc. (Torrance)
  • M.S. Aerospace Inc. (Sylmar)
  • Blake Wire & Cable Corp. (Van Nuys)
  • National Process Industries (Temecula)
  • CABRAC Inc. (Pacoima)
  • National Technical Systems (Santa Clarita)
  • Cal Metal Center(Chatsworth)
  • PAC Foundries (City of Industry)
  • Carlton Forge Works (Paramount)
  • Pacific Scientific EMC (Hollister)
  • Ceycal Inc. (Woodland Hills)
  • Paragon Precision (Valencia)
  • Cicon Engineering Inc. (Van Nuys)
  • Parasoft Corp. (Monrovia)
  • Coast Plating Inc. (Gardena)
  • Peen-Rite Inc. (Sun Valley)
  • Computer Systems Supply (Simi Valley)
  • Plasma-Coating Corp. (Gardena)
  • Csula College of Engineering (Los Angeles)
  • Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (Canoga Park)
  • Dytran Instruments Inc. (Chatsworth)
  • Precision Tube Bending (Santa Fe Springs)
  • Electro Adapter Inc. (Chatsworth)
  • Professional Plastics (Fullerton)
  • Electron Beam Welding Inc. (Buena Park)
  • Rayco Electronics Manufacturing Inc. (Gardena)
  • Electro Rent Corp. (Van Nuys)
  • RBC Industrial Tectonics Bearings Corp. (Rancho Dominguez)
  • EM Coating Services (North Hollywood)
  • Rodon Products Inc. (Huntington Beach)
  • Endevco Corp. (San Juan Capistrano)
  • Rudell Carbide Inc. (Chino)
  • Finn Tool & Instruments Inc. (Canoga Park)
  • Sager Electronics (Fountain Valley)
  • FMH Investor Group (Irvine)
  • Saint-Gobain Performance (Garden Grove)
  • FPI Inc. (Burbank)
  • Schlosser Forge Co. (Rancho Cucamonga)
  • G&D Industries Inc. (Covina)
  • Shultz Steel Co. (South Gate)
  • Gardner Bellows Corp. (Chatsworth)
  • Sierra Proto Express (Sunnyvale)
  • Goldenwest Manufacturing Inc. (Cedar Ridge)
  • Solara Engineering (Chatsworth)
  • Hales Engineering Co. Inc. (Camarillo)
  • Steven Label Corp. (Santa Fe Springs)
  • Harvey Titanium (El Segundo)
  • Thermech Engineering Corp. (Anaheim)
  • Hoefner Corp. (South El Monte)
  • Triad Systems International (Calabasas)
  • HR Textron Inc. (Valencia)
  • Tri-Star Plastics (Yorba Linda)
  • Intelligent Data Inc. (Van Nuys)
  • TW Metals Inc. (Los Angeles)
  • Interface Welding (Carson)
  • Uline Inc. (Lake Forest)
  • Kirkhill-TA Co. (Valencia)
  • Valley Seal Co. (Woodland Hills)
  • L.A. Gauge Co. (Sun Valley)
  • Welco Electronics Inc. (Sun Valley)
  • Laurel Sheet Metal Production Inc. (North Hollywood)
  • Wind River Systems Inc. (Alameda)
  • Leda Corp. (Huntington Beach) and
  • Wire Cut Company Inc. (Buena Park)
  • Le Fiell Manufacturing Co. (Santa Fe Springs)
  • W.W. Grainger Inc. (Northridge)
  • Lobart Co. (Pacoima)

SpaceRef staff editor.