Press Release

Team Ares Reaches Key Milestones on Ares I Upper Stage Risk Reduction Efforts

By SpaceRef Editor
June 14, 2007
Filed under , ,

Activities include Common Bulkhead Fabrication, Composite Structure Impact Damage Assessment, and Reaction Control System Development

As part of their Ares I Upper Stage production proposal, the three core companies that make-up Team Ares – Alliant Techsystems, Lockheed Martin, and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, Inc.– have been utilizing internal company funds that will help NASA mitigate the development risk for its future fleet of exploration launch vehicles.

Team Ares has several areas of research and development under way that will reduce the technical risk for Ares I, while also providing a practical application and benefit to a variety of other programs across the individual companies. Internal funds are being utilized to build demonstration models, perform testing, and conduct data analyses.

“Specific risk mitigation activities we’re conducting that will benefit NASA’s Ares Upper Stage are also of interest to the core capabilities of our companies as well as other customers,” said Jim Halsell, ATK Vice President and Team Ares Program Manager, Ares I Upper Stage. “We are taking steps today in order to develop data that could lead to the early retirement of program risk. Our approach is to be ready to ‘hit the ground running’ in support of NASA.”

Lockheed Martin is leveraging its experience in designing and manufacturing high-performance lightweight aerostructures to fabricate a demonstration article of the common bulkhead dome that separates the fuel and oxidizer compartments of the propellant tank. The demonstration utilizes state-of-the-art processes such as Friction Stir Welding of thin gage alloys, Phased Array Ultrasonic inspection of weldments, and Shearography inspection of honeycomb bonds to face-sheets. Each of these processes is being demonstrated in an environment that focuses on meeting the stringent human- rated requirements of this element in a cost effective and reliable manner. Lockheed Martin – Michoud Operations is leading this activity in New Orleans.

ATK is demonstrating the ability to detect, characterize and assess the effects of impact damage on large composite aerospace structures. ATK, which manufactures large composite structures for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles, commercial launch vehicles and a variety of aircraft, is demonstrating an advanced system for data collection and assessment on large composite test articles. The results will allow ATK to provide a deliverable health monitoring system and proven analysis methods to verify the integrity of the composite interstage structure and ensure mission success.
Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne, Inc., the industry leader in liquid fuel propulsion, is performing risk reduction demonstration hot-fire testing of a mono-propellant reaction control system thruster and valve assemblies, and detailed transient analyses to address development options early in the program.

“By combining our core competencies and working together in a seamless manner, Team Ares can significantly reduce integration issues and system complexity — and help NASA develop the Ares I Upper Stage within schedule and budget constraints,” added Halsell. “Reducing risk early in the program is critical to the overall success of the Ares I Upper Stage producibility assessment, and these investments will yield big dividends as we support NASA in the design of these critical elements.”

Team Ares is a natural partner to support NASA on this upper stage effort, demonstrating unparalleled experience in system and subsystem design, development, manufacturing, integration, test, and risk management for human- rated hardware. Team Ares core members have participated in every U.S. human space flight program throughout NASA’s history.

“We have been preparing for this procurement for nearly a year and announced our core team back in September 2006,” said Halsell. “We have also built a strong team of subcontractors that have been hand-selected to round out our team. Together, we have developed a proposal that presents a seamless effort, and we are ready to perform on this crucial contract for NASA and our Nation.”

About the Team Ares core companies

ATK’s Launch Systems Group provides innovative and cost-effective launch systems solutions to a broad range of customers. The Group is the world’s leading manufacturer of rocket motor systems for human-rated and unmanned space launch vehicles, strategic missiles, and missile defense interceptors. It serves both commercial and government customers, including prime contractors, NASA, the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U. S. Army and U.S. Missile Defense Agency.

ATK is a $3.9 billion advanced weapon and space systems company employing approximately 16,500 people in 21 states. News and information can be found on the Internet at

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company is one of the major operating units of Lockheed Martin Corporation. Space Systems designs, develops, tests, manufactures and operates a variety of advanced technology systems for military, civil and commercial customers. Chief products include a full range of space launch systems, including heavy-lift capability, ground systems, remote sensing and communications satellites for commercial and government customers, advanced space observatories and interplanetary spacecraft, fleet ballistic missiles and missile defense systems.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin employs about 140,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation reported 2006 sales of $39.6 billion.

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, Inc., a part of Pratt & Whitney, offers a complete line of propulsion products for launch vehicles to missile defense to advanced hypersonic propulsion. These have been used in a wide variety of government and commercial applications, including the main engines for the space shuttle, Atlas and Delta launch vehicles, and high altitude defense systems.

Pratt & Whitney is a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of aircraft engines, space propulsion systems and industrial gas turbines. United Technologies provides high-technology products and services to the aerospace and building industries.

SpaceRef staff editor.