TWO good solutions for the Ares-1 liftoff-drift issue
October 27, 2008

As reported in this Orlando Sentinel article, the latest problem of the Ares-1 in a very long list seems be a very dangerous rocket's liftoff-drift that could occur in the early seconds of the launch may damage the launch tower and destroy the rocket then, putting the Orion's crew under a serious risk!!!

As stated in the article, the "ignition of the rocket's solid-fuel motor makes it "jump" sideways on the pad, and a southeast breeze stronger than 12.7 mph would be enough to push the 309-foot-tall ship into its launch tower" ... "computer models show the ship could crash into its launch tower during liftoff" so, in the "worst case the impact would destroy the rocket" "even if that doesn't happen, flames from the rocket would scorch the tower, leading to huge repair costs".

Also, the risks are higher than that, since, the ESAS plan will use two different rocket (Ares-1 and Ares-5) that use two differently made launch pads of which just the Ares-1 pad will be able to launch a manned or remote-controlled Orion, so (both) manned or automated RESCUE MISSIONS (to save a crew in earth or lunar orbit) would be IMPOSSIBLE for weeks or (maybe) MONTHS until the Orion/Ares-1 launch pad will be repaired or (in the worst case) rebuilt from zero!!!

However, the (possible) Ares-1 launch liftoff-drift issue isn't a big problem to solve, since there are (at least) TWO cheap, simple and reliable ways to fix this problem.

The first way is to add two small movable fins on the top of the Ares-1 second stage, as shown in the modified Sentinel's image left (A) or (better shown) in my drawings of a standard Ares-1 (and its "better, safer, smarter, cheaper, simpler, lighter, shorter" version) published in my ghostNASA articles here and here.

The second way (but, both systems can be used togheter) is to add a small throttleable liquid propellents thruster (B) sidemounted on the middle of the Ares-1 first stage booster.


[update] Incredible but true, the "solution" proposed by NASA to "fix" the liftoff-drift issue is MUCH WORSE than the problem, since (as revealed by Flightglobal's Hyperbola) they think to adopt a DAMPER ARM that can put the Ares-1 under a very serious risk to COLLIDE with the launch pad at EVERY launch!!!

And these are my comments posted (so far) in the Hyperbola article:

it's a VERY DANGEROUS idea since it "may" save the launch pad but could damage and/or move the rocket's balance at lift-off (when the rocket is very slow, unstable and vulnerable!) putting the crew under serious risk!

the early seconds was/are/will be the MOST CRITICAL part of a launch since Gemini and Apollo era, when was common from the Mission Control Center to send to the astronauts the message "launch pad free" to say them when their rocket was over the pad's infrastructure, then (finally) unable to collide with it, so (at least) THIS risk was over!

I believe, that, the simpler, easier, cheaper and SAFER solutions is MY idea of a small thruster side-mounted on the 1st stage booster

it can surely work well since a similar solution was successful used from '60s to keep the Atlas 1B stable at lift-off (and after it)

however, another good (but very expensive) solution is to build a MOVING launch pad to be shifted 20+ meters away from the Ares-1 before the lift-off

what I see and read (mainly from NASA) really IS unbelievable!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

from the NASA drawing published by Orlando Sentinel and reviewed in my article the distance between the Ares-1 and the launch pad can be evaluated around 6-7 meters, ok?

well, the NASA concerns about the "lift-off drift" is that, with faster winds in the wrong direction, the Ares-1 could collide with the launch pad, despite it is 6-7 meters away, ok?

however, a "dangerously fast wind" MAY happen just in A FEW launches, while, in all other launches it will NOT happen, ok?

the BEST WAY to avoid the lift-off drift risk (that will happen ONLY a few times in the Ares-1 story) is to MOVE the launch pad (at least) 10-20 meters away from Ares-1 before the lift-off, ok?

unfortunately, a movable launch pad is TOO expensive, so, the NASA's "brilliant" idea is to put a "Damper Arm" (that actually IS a TRUE PART of the launch pad!!!) NOT 6-7 meters AWAY from the Ares-1 (like the "dangerous" launch pad) BUT a few CENTIMETERS CLOSE the Ares-1 opening the way for the Ares-1 to COLLIDE with the launch pad's Damper Arm at EVERY launch and NOT only in the few launches with faster winds!!!!!

that MULTIPLIES the LOM/LOC riks by (probably) TEN TIMES or more!

when a (manned or unmanned) rocket leaves the pad, it should be NOT connected or so close to anything like a cable, a refueling pipe or a "DAMPER ARM" or everything else that could TOUCH the or COLLIDE with the rocket, changing its balance and stability!!!

then, a Damper Arm pretty close to the Ares-1 at lift-off is a REALLY BAD, DANGEROUS AND CRAZY idea!!!

while, MY suggestion of a side-mounted SMALL thruster, is WAYS BETTER since:

1. it doesn't need to put anything like a "Damper Arm" so close (a few centimeters close, to be exact!) to the Ares-1

2. it's a very simple, cheap and reliable solution since already used 50 years ago on the Atlas 1B where it worked VERY WELL

3. it's absolutely NOT so "heavy" as you claim, since it needs a very small thrust (like an attitude jet) and a very small amount of propellents because it must work for less than 10 seconds (the time the Ares-1 needs to fly over the launch pad) then it could be jettisoned (or not)

4. its weight could be in the range of 50-100 kg. max, so, it can't add so much mass to the 1100+ tons Ares-1 if its weight wasn't too much not even on the 120 tons Atlas!!!

5. a side-mounted thruster's malfunction NEVER CAN DOOM a mission since it can be built with 2-3 small and independent engines (for redundancy) and can be TESTED at every launch burning them a few second before the lift-off (like happens with the SSMEs at every Shuttle launch)

about the question: "But will NASA want it for Ares I-X?"

my answer is a BIG "YES", since they MUST TEST the lift-off drift issue fixer (no matter if a small thruster or a Damper Arm) well BEFORE they'll build the FINAL Ares-1 ...just imagine they WON'T TEST it this year and will discover that it can't work (or is too dangerous) ONLY in 2013 (after paid 10-15 billion$$$ of R&D funds!) when they will launch the Ares 1-Y with an unmanned Orion!!!!

Q: "Remember Ares I-X? Its supposed to be representative of the CLV."

A: right! it's only "SUPPOSED" to be the same or similar to the CLV or Ares-1, but it's completely different from the REAL Ares-1, so, it can't give any true data about the Ares-1 performance and reliability nor can't say them/us IF the Ares-1 can really fly!!!

apart of the lift-off drift issue (that can be easy to fix) the solid motor Ares-1 looks VERY DANGEROUS by itself (since launched alone) for the 4-6 astronauts atop it, the thousands KSC workers and the Florida inhabitants near the launch base, as I've explained one year ago in this article:

and the consequences of the first FAILED test launch of the (OVER 55 TIMES SMALLER than Ares-1) solid motor ATK ALV X-1 (launched last August 22, 2008 from the Wallops Island NASA Flight Facility) have CONFIRMED all my concerns about it!


If you talk/discuss about this idea on forums, blogs, websites, magazines, newspapers
please acknowledge the source of the idea, putting a link to my article. Thank You.

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