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Contingency Operations of Americas Next Moon Rocket, Ares VAmerica has begun the development of a new space vehicle system which will enable humans to return to the moon and reach even farther destinations. The system is called Constellation: it has 2 earth-launch vehicles, Ares I and Ares V; a crew module, Orion; and a lander, Altair with descent and ascent stages. Ares V will launch an Earth Departure Stage (EDS) and Altair into low earth orbit. Ares I will launch the Orion crew module into low earth orbit where it will rendezvous and dock with the Altair and EDS "stack". After rendezvous, the stack will contain four complete rocket systems, each capable of independent operations. Of course this multiplicity of vehicles provides a multiplicity of opportunities for off-nominal behavior and multiple mitigation options for each. Contingency operations are complicated by the issues of crew safety and the possibility of debris from the very large components impacting the ground. This paper examines contingency operations of the EDS in low earth orbit, during the boost to translunar orbit, and after the translunar boost. Contingency operations under these conditions have not been a consideration since the Apollo era and analysis of the possible contingencies and mitigations will take some time to evolve. Since the vehicle has not been designed, much less built, it is not possible to evaluate contingencies from a root-cause basis or from a probability basis; rather they are discussed at an effects level (such as the reaction control system is consuming propellant at a high rate). Mitigations for the contingencies are based on the severity of the off-nominal condition, the time of occurrence, recovery options, options for alternate missions, crew safety, evaluation of the condition (forensics) and future prevention. Some proposed mitigations reflect innovation in thinking and make use of the multiplicity of on-orbit resources including the crew; example: Orion could do a "fly around" to allow the crew to determine the condition and cause of a partially separated payload shroud. Other mitigations are really alternate missions; example, an engine out on during ascent resulted in insufficient propellant for the lunar mission, but the on-orbit vehicle stack is otherwise perfect and can pursue an alternate mission, such as a high ballistic trajectory to test the high-speed atmospheric reentry of Orion. Evaluation and presentation of contingency operations at this early stage of the development of the Ares V rocket will improve the design of the vehicle and lay the groundwork for the exhaustive contingency planning which must be done after the vehicle is built as preparations for operations.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Jaap, John (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Richardson, Lea (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
April 25, 2010
Subject Category
Launch Vehicles and Launch Operations
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
SpcaeOps 2010 Conference: Delivering on the Dream(Huntsville, AL)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.