Ares I will transport the Orion crew exploration vehicle and its crew of up to six astronauts, or other small cargo payloads, to low-Earth orbit. The first stage will consist of a single reusable solid rocket booster and motor similar to those used on the space shuttle, but with a fifth motor segment added. The upper stage will consist of a J-2X liquid hydrogen, liquid oxygen engine and the associated propellant tanks and fuel distribution systems.
This Ares I first stage contract will increase a first stage task under an existing shuttle contract by $48m for a total work effort valued at $111m. These activities are a preparatory effort leading up to the Ares I first stage prime contract, which will be awarded in February 2007.
The contract maintains the design, development, test and evaluation schedule; expedites the procurement of new nozzle metal hardware and production tooling for propellant casting and nozzle fabrication; maintains the necessary design and engineering analysis; and continues participation in pilot parachute development tests.
The action also provides support for an initial test flight in the spring of 2009 known as Ares I-1 and provides support for Ares I-1 in preparation for Preliminary Design Review. The test flight will use a simulated fifth segment on the first stage and a simulated upper stage.