Friday, December 4, 2009

NASA Ares I-X test rocket results point to good launch but bad splashdown


Initial data on the launch of the Ares I-X rocket show NASA that it move straight and on course during its Oct. 28 launch, but undergone unexpected problems later in the mission with failed parachutes, NASA managers said today.

Guidance systems on the Ares I-X worked better than evaluated, and vibrations, which had been a concern, were below expected levels.

Ares I-X launch project manager Bob Ess said: "It was a development flight and worked very well like that," "We are very satisfied."

Two unexpected problems grazed up after the launch, said Marshall Smith, a lead systems engineer, were stress to the overall rocket structure and failure of a main recovery parachute.

Exploratory information show that a main recovery chute appears to have overinflated as it deployed, Smith said, and that most likely caused stress loads on the booster to exceed limits. These loads tore the shroud lines on one parachute, causing it to foul the lines of another chute, Smith said.

Precise speeds and loads are still being determined, he said.

"The velocity would be lower. We are working those issues now."For a standard Ares I we will come down on three parachutes, obviously," Smith said.


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