Alcoa has won a contract from NASA to develop the manufacturing capability and supply of high performance lithium-lithium plate and ingot to be used for the Ares 1 crew launch vehicle (CLV) upper stage.
The material will be sourced from Alcoa’s Davenport Works in
Ares I is an in-line, two-stage rocket that will transport to low-Earth orbit the Orion crew exploration vehicle carrying a team of up to six astronauts. The first stage will consist of a single reusable solid rocket booster similar to those used on the space shuttle. The second, or upper stage, will consist of a J-2X main engine fuelled by liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants.
In addition to carrying crews into orbit, the launch vehicle’s 25-ton payload capacity could be used to deliver resources and supplies to the International Space Station or to “park” payloads in orbit for retrieval by other exploration teams heading for the moon.