Thursday, October 15, 2009

Steering System Glitch Delays Ares I-X Rollout

The rollout of NASA's towering Ares I-X rocket is being delayed at least a day so technicians can replace a faulty part within its steering system.

It's unclear whether the delay will force NASA to push back the planned Oct. 27 Ares I-X test flight.

"Too soon to tell," Kennedy Space Center spokesman George Diller said.

The earliest the rollout to launch pad 39B might take place is 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

NASA had planned to start moving the 327-foot-tall rocket out of the KSC Vehicle Assembly Building at 12:01 a.m. Monday. But during a test late Wednesday, engineers noted a nitrogen leak in the hydraulic accumulator in the aft skirt of the vehicle.

The pressurized nitrogen leaked past a seal and into a hydraulic fluid vessel within the accumulator. The accumulator is part of the rocket's Thrust Vector Control system, which is designed to steer the bell-shaped nozzle on the bottom of the vehicle.

An identical failure occurred on one of the solid rocket boosters used for the STS-117 shuttle mission in June 2007.

Diller said the faulty part was removed this morning and a spare is being installed today. Electrical reconnections will be performed tonight and the spare will be retested Friday.

NASA at that point will be able to determine when the move will take place.

ABOUT THE IMAGE: Click to enlarge the NASA image of the Ares I-X test rocket in High Bay No. 3 of the Kennedy Space Center Vehicle Assembly Building. You can also click on the enlarged image to get an even bigger, more detailed view. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett.


Anonymous said...

The Center Director should see to it that the roll-out takes place during normal working hours and lets everyone have an hour off to go see it.

It will give us all something to talk about when we're waiting in line for our food stamps and unemployment checks.

Now that's Change we can believe in! Want fries with that?

Anonymous said...

Employees should be able to put copies of their resumes on the rocket so they could be rapidly distributed during launch.

Anonymous said...

Meh: about time they trimmed some pork and cut back on NASA funding.