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Reviews Completed On Orion, Ares I, Ares V, And On GPS Block III

By | November 20, 2006

      NASA completed its milestone first review of all systems for the Orion spacecraft that will carry astronauts to the moon and beyond, and the Ares I and Ares V rockets that will be the next-generation lifters for the space program, the space agency announced.

      The Orion vehicle will replace the aging NASA space shuttles

      Separately, Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT], selected by NASA in August to lead the multi-billion Orion program, announced yesterday that its next-generation Air Force Global Positioning System Space Segment program, or GPS Block III, completed its system requirements review.

      GPS Block III will enhance space-based navigation and performance and set a new world standard for positioning and timing services, according to Lockheed. The program will address the challenging military transformational and civil needs across the globe, including advanced anti-jam capabilities and improved system security, accuracy and reliability.

      The third GPS Block IIR-M satellite is scheduled for liftoff today from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

      Turning back to the Orion and Ares programs, NASA completed the thorough systems requirements review of the Constellation Program this week. Review results provide the foundation for design, development, construction and operation of the rockets and spacecraft necessary to take explorers to Earth orbit, the moon by 2020, and eventually to Mars and beyond.

      Those voyages are part of the $230 billion, multi-decades vision for space programs that President Bush propounded.

      “This review is a critical step in making the system a reality,” said Constellation Program Manager Jeff Hanley of the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston. “I am proud of this dedicated and diligent NASA-wide team. We have established the foundation for a safe and strong transportation system and infrastructure. It is a historic first step.”

      This is the first system requirements review NASA has completed for a human spacecraft system in more than three decades, since a review of the space shuttle’s development held in October 1972. The Constellation Program system requirements are the product of 12 months of work by a NASA-wide team.

      The system requirements review is one in a series of reviews that will occur before NASA and its contractors build the Orion capsule, the Ares launch vehicles, and establish ground and mission operations. The review guidelines narrow the scope and add detail to the system design.

      With Lockheed in the Orion program are Honeywell [HON], Orbital Sciences Corp. [ORB], United Space Alliance (The Boeing Co. [BA] and Lockheed) and Hamilton Sundstrand, a unit of United Technologies Corp. [UTX]. In the Ares program, NASA last month extended a previous contract action with ATK Thiokol of Brigham City, Utah, to continue design and development of the first stage for the Ares I crew launch vehicle. The extension has a maximum value of $35 million.

      The systems reviews for Orion and the Ares programs are a key step in a long journey.

      “We are confident these first requirements provide an exceptional framework for the vehicle system,” said Chris Hardcastle, Constellation Program systems engineering and integration manager at Johnson. “This team has done a significant amount of analysis which will bear out as we continue with our systems engineering approach and refine our requirements for the next human space transportation system.”

      An example of the activity was a review and analysis that confirmed the planned Ares I launch system has sufficient thrust to put the Orion spacecraft in orbit.

      In fact, the Ares I thrust provides a 15 percent margin of performance in addition to the energy needed to put the fully crewed and supplied Orion into orbit for a lunar mission.

      Engineers established the Orion takeoff weight for lunar missions at over 61,000 pounds.

      Each Constellation project also is preparing for a narrower, project-level systems review next year, according to the following schedule:

      • Orion crew exploration vehicle, February
      • Ground operations (launch support), February
      • Mission operations (mission support), March
      • Extravehicular activity (space suits), March

      Once the project-level reviews are complete, the Constellation Program will hold another full review to reconcile the baseline from this first review with any updates from the project reviews.

      A lunar architecture systems review of equipment associated with surface exploration and science activities on the moon is expected in the spring of 2009.

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