Horowitz Deems Ares I Vibration Problems Fixable; NASA Schedules April 3 Briefing

Shuttle astronaut turned consultant Scott Horowitz says that vibration problems on NASA’s Ares I rocket are easily fixable, Aviation Week reports.

“You can mitigate this throughout the whole vehicle,” Horowitz told AvWeek. “You can do it on the top of the first stage. You can do it on the interstage. You can do it by the orientation of the tanks. When you get up to the [Orion crew exploration vehicle] CEV and the service module, then you can put shock absorbers in the seats.”

Horowitz is a four-time shuttle veteran who is now works as a private consultant for ATK, contractor for the Ares I first stage. He is also advising NASA. Horowitz headed up NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate during the early stages of Ares development.

NASA will provide an update on the findings of the Ares 1 thrust oscillation focus team on Thursday, April 3, at 2:30 p.m. EDT. The teleconference will be broadcast live at http://www.nasa.gov/newsaudio.

The Rocketsandsuch blog has a far gloomier assessment of the thrust problem revolving around the additional weight the fixes would add to the Ares launch vehicle and Orion capsule.

“The latest attempts to dampen its inherent oscillatory modes are falling far short of the goal,” a posting reports. “Additional weight is required just to strengthen the basic structure of the rocket to withstand the rigors of the rocking and rolling being generated by the solid rocket motor. That weight is being added even before the dampers are added to keep the crew within the Orion capsule (itself drastically overweight) from suffering unrecoverable damage to their chest cavities and bladders caused by the rocket’s natural frequencies aligning with those of the vital organs.

“More and more engineers are coming to realize that ARES 1 has become unviable as the crew launch system.”