reply to post by fieryjaguarpaw
This is just my personal opinion, but I think a successful Ares 1-X test (if this does turn out to be successful after all the data is digested) will
help out the Ares program specifically and Constellation Program in general.
During the post-test press conference today, NASA was very candid about the Augustine Commission Report and about Ares I chances to be operational
(with the Orion Capsule) by 2015. They said that the Augustine Commission assessment that the Ares-I/Orion would not be operational until 2016 is a
fair assessment, but only if one wants to say when it will definitely
be operational. NASA still contends that it has a good chance to hit the
By the way, during that press briefing, NASA also reiterated their assertion that they would
have had the Ares I operational by 2013 IF they
got the funding they asked for -- but funding kept getting cut, and the schedule kept sliding.
In short, even the Augustine Commission would agree that the reason Ares-I operational date keeps sliding is not due to technical failures, but rather
due to budgetary constraints.
The problem with President Obama scrapping the Ares I is that they would then need to begin designing another
rocket to replace the shuttle as
a crew launch vehicle, and that would put the manned program back another 5 years or so -- and cause the Ares-I work done so far to be for nothing.
The proposed program now consists of two totally separate launch vehicles for launching crews (the Ares I) and for launching Cargo (the Ares V). This
separation of crew and cargo is the safest method as proposed by the Columbia
Accident Review Board.
They strongly urged NASA to do this, and NASA listened when it came time to plan their Moon missions. Under the current plan, the Ares I will lift
the crew capsule, while the Ares V lifts the lunar lander and cruise stage
Other systems being considered by the Augustine Commission in lieu of the Ares I would NOT
separate Crew and Cargo. A system that uses
a single heavy-lift design (called the "Ares V Lite", because it is derived from the Ares V -- only smaller) that will lift the Orion Capsule and
half of the lunar equipment in one launch, and the other half of the lunar exploration equipment in a second launch.
Both NASA's current Moon plans and the "Ares V Lite" system will require 2 launches. The difference is NASA plans to use two different types of
launch vehicles (Ares I and Ares V), while the "Ares Light" system will require two launches of the same
type of vehicle (Ares V
The pros and cons are this:
Pros for NASA's plan
-- (1) Crews and cargo are kept separate, as per the Columbia Investigation Report. (2) The Ares V can lift much heavier
payloads than the Ares V "Lite". Having a workhorse that can lift very heavy payloads would be a plus to space exploration in general -- not just
manned exploration. (3) Plus, NASA would be able to launch an Orion Capsule to orbit (to visit the space station, for example) without needing to use
a unnecessarily large Ares V "Lite".
Cons of NASA's plan
-- Requires two separate designs for launch Vehicles (Ares I and Ares V).
Pros for Ares V "Lite"
-- One vehicle design (Ares V "Lite").
Cons for Ares V "Lite"
-- (1) Crews and cargo are not kept separate. (2) The maximum payload weight is less that the full-blown Ares V.
There are other ideas out there, but the Augustine Commission concentrated mainly on these two.
Like I said, I think if today's Ares 1-X test is deemed successful, then I think that helps keep the Ares I and constellation program on track as
NASA originally intended -- although budget constraints may slow the timeline once again.
Obviously NASAs current plan is the "better" plan of the two (if money didn't matter), but in the real world money does
the "Ares V Lite" plan is the less costly of the two.
They reason that it's taking so long to go back to the Moon has nothing to do with unattainable technologies and everything to do with not having a
large enough budget. If NASA had the budget they had back in the 1960s (correcting for inflation), the Constellation Program would have been ready to
go to the Moon within the next couple of years.