NASA Podcasts

NE@Ares IX Live Part 1
11.06.09
 
› Download Vodcast (419MB)
 
 
 
Featuring
Ares I-X Flight Demonstration
Interviews
- Michelle Ferebee
- Jill Marlowe
- Jon Cowart
Fan Reactions with Franklin


NASA EDGE takes the show live to cover the historic launch of Ares I-X. Featuring a long list of guests (Michelle Ferebee –Aerospace Education Services Program, Jill Marlowe – Systems Engineering Directorate, Ashley Edward – Public Affairs Office NASA HQ, Jon Cowart – Ares I-X) and Franklin’s fan reaction videos, the entire NASA EDGE team weathers multiple launch delays to bring you the incredible, triboelectrification free launch of Ares I-X. In fact, there is so much jammed into the program we have to deliver it in two parts!



CHRIS: You’re looking live at the Ares I-X rocket on Pad 39B at NASA Kennedy Space Center. You’re watching NASA EDGE.

CHRIS: Welcome to NASA EDGE.

JACKY: An inside and outside look at all things NASA.

BLAIR: And a new format. We’re actually live today for the first time.

CHRIS: And unscripted.

BLAIR: Which is normal.

CHRIS: Which is scary because you being live and unscripted at the same time, scares me and Jacky.

JACKY: Editing usually saves him.

BLAIR: Yes, among other things. Who knew it would be dark at 7 am?

CHRIS: That’s right. In fact for those of you out there who have never heard of NASA EDGE, NASA EDGE is an unscripted video podcast that takes an inside and outside look at all things NASA. Jacky, why don’t you tell them how to access the vodcast?

JACKY: All you have to do is go to www.nasa.gov/nasaedge You can also download the episodes on ITunes.

BLAIR: Which I recommend by the way.

CHRIS: On the show today, if you want to send in a question, you can send a question about Ares I-X or NASA in general to nasalearn@gmail.com or if you’re a twitter fan, twitter to nasa_edge.

BLAIR: We are monitoring twitter closely because we want to get all those questions in throughout the show and throughout the day leading up to the launch.

JACKY: Let’s go ahead and get started with the show. I’d like to introduce Michelle Ferebee. She is the Aerospace Education Services Project.

CHRIS: How are you doing Michelle?

MICHELLE: Good morning!

CHRIS: What is AESP all about?

MICHELLE: It’s all about teachers and students. It’s about 22 educators at all NASA centers that are doing educational professional development and student programs in all the 50 states and U.S. territories.

CHRIS: There are 10 NASA centers throughout the country?

MICHELLE: Yes. We’re bringing exciting programs, robotic programs and bringing that NASA content and getting it into the hands of students and teachers so we can inspire the next generation of explorers. So we can go to the moon and then onto Mars.

CHRIS: Are these are trained NASA educators that will go out into the schools to work with the students and teachers?

MICHELLE: Yes, exactly.

BLAIR: So kids today in schools might be watching this program right now, being inspired?

MICHELLE: Exactly.

BLAIR: Don’t listen to me. Listen to everyone else so you can be inspired. This is an incredible event we have here today with Ares I-X.

CHRIS: As a teacher, I am a former high school teacher, how do I contact an AESP educator to come to my school?

MICHELLE: You can do it different ways. One way is to go to the NASA website, nasa.gov/education and find AESP. Also, a lot of our education specialists go to the schools and reach out to the science supervisors and the math coordinators within all the school systems.

CHRIS: This is a free program.

MICHELLE: It’s a free program. What else can I say?

BLAIR: Can you get special credit if you’re not doing well in one of your math classes? If you get signed up, can you get some help, like me, maybe?

MICHELLE: Some of the teachers might on the side for a small fee, give you a little bit of tutoring.


all laughing

CHRIS: You need all the tutoring you can get, right?

BLAIR: I represented all the tutoring opportunities in the school system, that’s for sure.

MICHELLE: This program is the front line. It’s the longest running K-12 program at NASA. It’s been in existence for almost 50 years.

BLAIR: Wow.

CHRIS: Fifty years?

MICHELLE: Fifty years.

CHRIS: Do you remember that 50 years ago?

JACKY: You target all teachers K through 12?

MICHELLE: We target all teachers K through 12. And starting two years ago, we started working with pre-service teachers, teachers that are still in college, 3rd and 4th year college students to get them use to using some of the NASA content before they hit the classrooms.

JACKY: What kind of NASA content do you talk to them about?

MICHELLE: Everything. For example, anything associated with Ares I-X. We have programs surrounding LCROSS.

BLAIR: Oh yeah.

CHRIS: Which just impacted the moon.

MICHELLE: Exactly.

BLAIR: And they were actually looking at some real data in classrooms when that happened.

MICHELLE: That’s right. That’s correct.

CHRIS: So you stay up with all the current NASA topics and current NASA missions.

MICHELLE: Yes, that’s correct. People like you, the educational public outreach, people that are working in the mission directorates, our educators stay in touch with you, talk with the scientists and engineers to make sure the public outreach information is also usable in the classrooms. We have lesson plans and curriculum that are aligned with the national and state standards. We’ll tailor our workshops to the needs of the particular schools that we go in and try to support.

BLAIR: It benefits everybody basically.

MICHELLE: It benefits everybody.

CHRIS: What better way to get real content, real data that you’re using in the classroom? When that student goes up to the teacher to ask, do I have to learn about algebra or physics, or chemistry? We can answer those questions.

MICHELLE: Exactly.

CHRIS: That’s awesome.

JACKY: Do you find the teachers are just as excited as the students?

MICHELLE: They really are. We want to come up with some new programs to get the teachers more immersed in what the engineers and scientists actually do, so they know why the students are learning as opposed to just going in to rout teach.

BLAIR: Michelle, we want to thank you so much for being here today. We have to take a quick break. When we do, we’ll be back with Jill Marlow who is… her title is a long title.

CHRIS: She is the Deputy director for the Systems Engineering Directorate at NASA Langley Research Center.

BLAIR: We’ll be talking with her and coming back with questions.

CHRIS: Cool. Thanks Michelle.

MICHELLE: Thank you. Go Ares I-X.

BLAIR: Absolutely.

MICHELLE: Congratulations.

BLAIR: Thank you.

Break

voice on radio scanner

siren

JOE: I think he’s going to want to see a license and registration.

BARBARA: We don’t have a license and registration for a test article.

JOE: Look. See if we can find something. Maybe we can find Mike Gernhardt’s thesis for this system.

BARBARA: Oh no, here he comes!

JOE: Let me do the talking. Hello officer.

OFFICER: Sir, do you know how fast you were going?

JOE: Ah no officer. Do you mean here on earth or on the moon?

tires squeeling

BARBARA: Go, go, go!

OFFICER: CR3 Dispatch, I’ve got a runner. Looks like they’re going to make a left on 5th Street.

gavel pounding

BARBARA: You shouldn’t have used the co-host as your character witness.

JOE: You’re certainly right about that.

BARBARA: Come on, let’s get this place cleaned up.

JOE: You bet.

CHRIS: You’re back with NASA EDGE.

BLAIR: An inside and outside look at all things NASA. As you’ve just witnessed, an aspect of the live production where I wasn’t paying attention to what was going on.

CHRIS: That’s okay. It’s the first time we’ve done this. We’ll see how it goes.

BLAIR: I was actually watching the live feed on the computer, which is slightly delayed. I got a little distracted but it won’t happen again because with live programming you actually learn.

CHRIS: That’s true.

BLAIR: I’m learning on the job.

CHRIS: Let’s get to the meat of the program today, the Ares I-X launch. This is going to be an exciting launch today, hopefully.

BLAIR: Absolutely.

CHRIS: If the weather holds out, because, for the first time we have a different vehicle on Pad 39B other than the shuttle.

BLAIR: Which is amazing in and of itself. It’s been since Saturn launch.

CHRIS: That’s right.

BLAIR: It’s been over 30 years, at least.

JACKY: This is actually my very first launch ever, not to mention the fact that I’ve never known another vehicle. This is extremely historical.

BLAIR: For Jacky.

JACKY: For me.

CHRIS: For everybody.

JACKY: Absolutely.

CHRIS: In fact, we have an expert to my left. We have Jill Marlowe, who is the Deputy Director for the Systems Engineering Directorate at NASA Langley Research Center, which we’re based out of.

BLAIR: That’s right.

CHRIS: Jill, welcome to the show.

JILL: Thank you. I’m so excited to be here.

CHRIS: It’s pretty cool to talk to an engineer that has actually worked on the rocket.

JILL: Do you want to touch me?

CHRIS: Yeah.

all laughing

BLAIR: Let’s talk about that a little bit because you were intimately involved in this project coming along. How does it feel to be here on the brink of the launch?

JILL: Oh, you have no idea. This has been 3 years in the making for much of the team. I was privileged to be a part of it for a short time. It’s like you just said. This is so historic. This is the birth of a whole new human space transport system. The kids who are in school today probably won’t even remember the shuttle. They’ll remember this. And anybody who’s watching will get to say they were there from the very beginning. This is the first test flight leading up to a whole new series of rockets to get people to space.

CHRIS: And for the fans out there, we have a cool animation that we’re going to show you on how the Ares I-X rocket will launch. Jill, let’s take a look at the animation and run through what’s going on.

JILL: Okay, very good. There’s our rocket. It’s 327 feet tall, 32 stories. It was made all over the country, sliced up like a hot dog and integrated together, which is no small feat in and of itself. Here it is blasting off. There’s a little maneuver to kick it away from the tower to avoid damaging the tower. The plume is really powerful. Now, it’s completing its liftoff maneuver, which is one of the most intense parts of the flight. Now here on ascent, one of our flight objectives is to show we can control this new rocket configuration. And it’s executing about 4 different maneuvers, where we basically steer the rocket in a known way and see if the rocket actually reacts the way we thought it would. Now it’s coming up on its 130,000 feet where we’ll actually separate the booster from the CM/LAS and the upper stage, the upper parts of the rocket.

CHRIS: Can we pause the video for a second, Ron? I have a question. We just saw a first stage separation.

JILL: Yes, we did.

CHRIS: What are those thrusters firing for down by the…?

JILL: The back end of the rocket? There are actually two different sets of rockets back there. There’s the booster tumble motors; the booster deceleration motors. The big ones we saw fire just a couple of seconds ago are the booster deceleration motors. Their whole purpose is to slow down the booster, so the rest of it can continue on and they won’t come into re-contact, which would be bad.

CHRIS: Okay.

JILL: Then, the ones you can see frozen on the screen right now are the booster tumble motors. You can see they’re only on one side. It helps the rocket to spin in a certain way as it tumbles.

CHRIS: We’ll see that in a few seconds here.

JILL: You’ll see that in a few seconds. Yeah.

BLAIR: That’s very important to know because you’re wanting to control that landing but not so for the first stage or upper stage.

JILL: That’s right. The upper stage and the tip of the rocket will tumble into the Atlantic and break up. We’ll see that in a minute on the animation.

CHRIS: Let’s go ahead and continue the animation if we can.

JILL: There it goes. So those little rockets are causing it to tumble. Actually, it is a carefully designed tumble. If it doesn’t slow down and tumble exactly right, our parachutes won’t open. If the parachutes won’t open, it won’t stay intact and we won’t be able to recover the booster, which is another one of our primary test objectives.

BLAIR: We learned all that during the shuttle. We know how to reuse these SRBs.

JILL: That’s right. And this one is actually assembled from pieces of prior SRBs from 30 different shuttle flights.

JACKY: Wow.

BLAIR: It’s like a big lego set.

all laughing

CHRIS: Now the upper stage, the crew module and the launch abort system will fall into the Atlantic Ocean.

JILL: It will.

CHRIS: It’s a mass simulator.

JILL: Yes, that’s exactly right. And it’s designed to break up out there.

BLAIR: Are there any eyewitnesses that plan to see it happen to monitor that?

JILL: I don’t actually know if we are monitoring where it goes in visually.

BLAIR: It’s a fine line. You want to be safe but that’s going to be coming in without a parachute.

JILL: Well, the range is cleared. It’s clearly safe.

CHRIS: We see the parachutes deploying for the first stage.

JILL: Yeah, that was the pilot chute. Here come the main chutes. They’ll fully inflate in just a second.

CHRIS: This solid rocket booster is a five-segment solid rocket booster as opposed to the shuttle using a four-segment booster.

JILL: Right.

CHRIS: The parachutes on this SRB are much bigger than the ones on the shuttle.

JILL: Yep. There is goes. It’s coming on in. It just ejected the nozzle and now we’ll get to see it land. Look, it’s completely intacted. Isn’t it nice when simulations work?

BLAIR: Yeah.

CHRIS: That is pretty cool.

JILL: It is very cool.

CHRIS: We’ve got to get a job where we can get some scuba gear and go retrieve that.

JILL: I know. Those guys have a cool job.

BLAIR: So they really do right afterwards send divers in?

JILL: Yeah. I am not as familiar with the operation segment but I do know demonstrating the recovery of this is one of our primary test objectives. This is a whole new era in the way we’re doing things. Not only is it new technically from a rocket perspective but we’re also doing a lot that is new operations wise. For example, right now in the Firing Room is a much smaller group of folks that are right there on consult to launch this rocket than you ever saw on shuttle. Just that whole process is a new thing that we’re also testing out.

BLAIR: It seems to me that’s going to accelerate things. In the Apollo days, we were breaking new ground and learning as we go. Now, it seems we’re going to be able to take the benefit of that program with the shuttle program, combine the two in the new program…

JILL: Absolutely.

BLAIR: And get further faster.

JILL: We’re always trying to leverage everything that we’ve learned before and make good use of it as we go forward. We don’t want to have to relearn things that we already know.

BLAIR: That’s good.

CHRIS: Being an engineer you are very interested in data.

JILL: I’m very interested in data.

CHRIS: With all this data, you’re going to be taking a look at 700 different measurements.

JILL: Yes, I didn’t’ mention that. There are 700 different data points all over the rocket and they actually match up to points that we studied while we were designing the rocket and also points we tested in the wind tunnels before hand. This will be a time where we get to compare all of that data and see if our methods are good.

BLAIR: That’s a lot of data points.

JILL: It’s actually not nearly as many as the analysts want.

BLAIR: Really?

JACKY: Wow.

JILL: We wanted many, many more.

BLAIR: Would they ever ask for less? Analysts, don’t they tend to want everything?

JILL: Yes. We were asked to reduce that set substantially.

CHRIS: Where is that data stored?

JILL: Where is that data stored? There are some onboard computers and the data is also telemeter down.... up until separation.

BLAIR: Is that a redundancy?

JILL: There are redundant data units on board.

CHRIS: Jacky, I think we have a fan video from the turn basin.

JACKY: We do. Franklin is talking to several people who are out watching the Ares I-X, waiting for it to launch. Let’s see what that video is all about and see what they are saying.

FRANKLIN: What does today mean for the history of NASA?

MAN: Today is a really big milestone because it is the first time in 20 to 30 years that we’re launching a new vehicle to replace the shuttle. There’s a lot of people who have never been part of this that are going to get a chance today to put a new vehicle out there.

BLAIR: That’s a great job. Franklin, out there with his iPhone, taking video immediately.

CHRIS: Using the current technology at its best.

BLAIR: Absolutely.

CHRIS: I just got an update.

BLAIR: Okay.

CHRIS: That was cool, wasn’t it?

BLAIR: I use to be in the secret service so I’m use to the IFB.

CHRIS: It turns out from our good buddy, Derek Wang, he’s saying that the rotating service structure that surrounds Ares I-X is being retracted. It’s in the parked position but we’re still keeping an eye on the weather.

JILL: Yes.

CHRIS: There could be a case where it might be delayed because of the weather. So, we’re going to stay tuned and see what happens.

JILL: Yes. Electronics don’t like lightening so much.

BLAIR: Speaking of the weather, I happen to have a list of 15 different weather conditions that will prevent the launch from taking place.

CHRIS: Look at the video.

BLAIR: Oh, that’s beautiful. Anyway, if weather does become a problem, I’ll be peppering the shows with different incidents that might cause a reason for delay.

JILL: I thought you were going to do a top ten list. I was getting all excited for that.

BLAIR: The pressure is on. It’s live TV. I don’t have writers like Letterman or anything. Of course that’s a good thing.

CHRIS: Let’s take a break and when we come back we’ll check out some more fan video.

BLAIR: Excellent. You’re watching NASA EDGE.

CHRIS: An inside and outside look at…

JACKY: …at all things NASA.

CHRIS: Welcome back…

BLAIR: …to NASA EDGE live.

CHRIS: An inside and outside look at all things NASA.

BLAIR: Where the promos are a little too short for me to review all the notes that I have that I’m going over before we went to break. Sorry about that.

CHRIS: I think we might have another fan video. Is that true Ron? They’re cueing it up now. Before we go to that fan video, we had a chance to talk to the Deputy Mission Manager…

JILL: Oh, Jon. Yeah.

CHRIS: Jon Cowart from NASA Kennedy. Let’s see what Jon had to say about…

BLAIR: Actually, before we do that, we are starting to get some questions to come in from twitter and email.

CHRIS: I’m sorry. I jumped the gun.

BLAIR: Yeah, you did. Jacky, I believe, has a question from her viewers.

JACKY: Sure. Will the Ares I-X rocket be used for lunar projects and with the advances to the new Rover; will it be carried in this new rocket out of there?

CHRIS: Interesting.

JILL: Ares I-X is just a test flight. It’s a demonstration test flight. In this configuration, it will not. But it’s a part of the whole Ares family, which is intended to eventually carry astronauts to the moon and with whatever experiments they want to do there, possibly including rovers.

JACKY: How many additional test flights will there be after this?

JILL: It’s a good question. I don’t recall the number. It is a good question. It’s actually sort of much debate because as engineers we want as many test flights as possible but of course we have to balance that with mission.

CHRIS: You could test everyday if you wanted to, right?

JILL: I would test everyday. I love data. Did I mention that I love data?

CHRIS: You did talk about loving data. Yeah.

BLAIR: All this talk of testing is bringing up bad memories from school. I’d like to move on.

JILL: So there’s a different thing about these tests. You even learn from failure. There is no such thing as a failure in that way. So see, that should give you comfort.

BLAIR: It gives me comfort and hope. Thank you so much.

CHRIS: I think we have Jon Cowart’s piece ready to go. We’re going to hear from the Deputy Missions Manager, Jon Cowart from NASA Kennedy Space Center.

BLAIR: Is that Franklin’s interview.

CHRIS: Yeah, Franklin’s interview. Absolutely.

BLAIR: Perfect. Okay, great.

FRANKLIN: Hey guys. I am here today with Jon Cowart, Deputy Mission Manager of Ares I-X. Jon, give us a brief overview of Ares I-X.

JON: Well, Ares I-X is a flight test of an Ares I-like rocket. We’re flying this thing so we can collect data to give to the Ares I folks. But also, by the way, we just collect data that’s good for rocket science. For the first time I’m aware of we’ve taken a computer model with test points on it, then a wind tunnel model, with the same test points on it, and then an actual rocket with the same test points on it. We were able to prepare all three and prove our ability to model rockets. Tomorrow, what will happen at T-zero, 8 am, you’re going to see a lift-off at Pad B. It will clear those towers in about 6 seconds, go supersonic in 39 seconds, and then the powered portion of the flight is over in 2 minutes, 4 seconds. We do the recovery of the first stage and the upper stage just becomes a giant lawn dart out there in the ocean.

FRANKLIN: Why won’t you retrieve the upper section?

JON: Because we don’t need to. All the data we’re getting, all those sensors, we have 725 sensors on this rocket. All the data is being telemetered down to us on the ground. Second of all, it’s being recorded. We feed that into the first stage. We’re going to recover the first stage. There’s nothing in the upper stage except a whole bunch of platforms that allow us to get to the top of the rocket, so there’s no need to recover it. In fact, we had to do a study for the coast guard to verify that when it hit the water it would sink.

FRANKLIN: It would sink?

JON: Yeah.

FRANKLIN: How many miles down range will the Ares I-X fly?

JON: It’s going to come into two pieces. The first stage will splash down about 110 miles out. The upper stage will go on about 130 miles before it hits the water.

FRANKLIN: Visually, will it leave our sight?

JON: Absolutely, it will leave your sight. You will not see either one of those splash down because separation occurs somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 miles out. It just continues on in a giant ark. You’ll lose sight of them.

FRANKLIN: Okay. Where are you going to be on launch day?

JON: I am going to be over in Hanger AE, located over on the Cape side. The primary launch team is, of course, in Firing Room 1. It’s a very small launch team, only about 30 people. The people who we saying are sitting in the back room or the launch support team, we’re all going to be in Hanger AE. Hanger AE supports a lot of unmanned launches out here at the Cape. They have a very good history of doing this sort of thing. We’re trying to break with the Shuttle tradition of having everyone in Firing Room 1 and 2, that sort of thing. So, we’re going to go with a small Firing Room 1 and Firing Room 2 is now going to be over in Hanger AE. Like I said, we’re trying to think out of the box and do new things.

FRANKLIN: Those data points you talked about earlier. Are those the things you’re going to be monitoring from the Cape side?

JON: Absolutely. We look at all the sensors and what they’re telling us, as well as, the guidance, navigation controls and flight controls. That’s actually during the countdown what we’d be looking more for is, are those things behaving properly.

FRANKLIN: What is different with the Ares I-X from the Apollo, Saturn missions? What’s the difference in the sizes of the rockets?

JON: Saturn 5 was 365 feet tall. Ares I-X is 327 feet tall. Saturn 5 was 33 feet in diameter at the base. We are 12 feet in diameter at the base. The thing that drives that is how much mass you’re trying to get into orbit. Obviously, a Saturn 5 wanted to get a command module, and a lunar module as well as an earth-departure stage into orbit. With an Ares rocket, all you’re trying to do is get a command module, a service module and some crew. You’re not taking a lunar module or an earth-departure stage. So we don’t have to be near as big, therefore we don’t need as much propellant.

FRANKLIN: Okay. I’m going to step outside of the Ares talk for just a little bit. On launch day, we know you as the Deputy Mission Manager but on twitter you’re…

JON: Rocky_Sci

FRANKLIN: Rocky_Sci. Which personality is going to show up on launch day?

JON: When I’m dealing with my team, I have to be the cold, calculating engineer. When I’m on twitter, I’m the excited guy I really feel I am inside. After this thing gets off the ground, I will be Rocky_Sci. I guarantee. I’m very excited. I’m pumped up on adrenaline, that and Red Bull.

FRANKLIN: Pre-launch, are we going to hear anything from Rocky_Sci?

JON: I’ll try to a little bit. I’m restricted in what I can do from over there because I don’t have a lot of computer connectivity. Before I go into work in the morning, I’ll probably tweet something. And then as soon as I can get to a computer after the launch, I’ll tweet something.

FRANKLIN: Before I came over hear, Blair wanted me to bring you something. He gave me the launch codes and the launch code key, so you could launch Ares I-X. He picked this up on the way in.

JON: Oh really. This is great! Now I don’t have to wait for a go from anybody else. When I think its ready, I can go.

FRANKLIN: Absolutely.

JON: Okay, looks great to me. I’ll take it, man.

FRANKLIN: Hey Jon, thanks a lot.

JON: Thank you.

FRANKLIN: Guys, back to you.

BLAIR: I have to clarify some things. I was a victim of some fan fraud. Somebody actually came to me and told me they had the launch code and the keys. I didn’t know any better.

CHRIS: I can’t believe you fell for that.

BLAIR: I lost all my per diem. It’s terrible. There are no launch codes. There are no launch keys. Much more sophisticated methods than the old NORAD from War Games back in the 80’s.

CHRIS: You’ll know for next time.

BLAIR: Yes. And I won’t make the same mistake twice. It’s all about learning as Jill mentioned earlier.

CHRIS: It’s all about data.

BLAIR: You go through a test and there you go.

CHRIS: I think Jacky had a question real quick.

JACKY: Sure. Yesterday we had the opportunity to get really close to the Ares I-X. Jill, I don’t remember what you looked like. You were so excited to see something you had worked on. It was the first time you had seen it all put together because each piece came from different centers around the nation.

CHRIS: I thought I saw some tears coming from her eyes.

JACKY: Yeah. It was so motivational and exciting to see you react that way.

JILL: It was amazing to see it like that. The last time I actually saw the rocket was when it was in the VAB probably six months ago and it was still in pieces. You saw in the video the interview with Jon, the guys crawling up inside the rocket. It gives you a sense of just how big it is when you’re up next to each other. And seeing all put together on the Pad like that, I think it brought a tear to my eye. Engineers, we get emotional about this stuff. You know?

JACKY: Yeah.

CHRIS: Speaking about getting excited, I think Franklin has another video from the turn basin. Let’s go check it out.

FRANKLIN: I understand you’ve been working on Ares I-X. What does the flight of Ares I-X mean to you?

MAN: Today is really the big day. It feels like graduation day. I’ve been in Constellation since it first started, since the first concepts were developed. And now to be here on launch day watching the Ares I-X rocket, which we worked so hard to get ready for, on the pad and ready to go, is really a great moment. Great moment; great goose bumps.

BLAIR: That’s awesome.

CHRIS: That’s pretty cool, isn’t it?

BLAIR: I’m really glad we have Franklin out there on the scene talking to people. It sounds like there are a lot of people out here like Jill that actually contributed to the project. So, a lot of people out here feeling a sense of accomplishment and excitement, as we’re on the brink of this new start.

CHRIS: I just like the fact that we’re using the technology. He’s actually able to send live video to us.

BLAIR: Well, Franklin has been sending live video to lots of people for a long time. It’s old hat for him but it’s new for NASA EDGE live.

CHRIS: I do have a question about I-X. This has been, you said, a 3 year process you’ve been working on. Take us back to that initial day when you first started working on the project. What was going through your mind at that point compared to now? Take us through that.

JILL: Gosh, I joined the project about a year or so ago. I was only on it for a very short time. The design was well under way at that point, and had already been through, what we call, a critical design review, where theoretically we know exactly what that rocket is suppose to look like but we still had some major technical challenges. We hadn’t designed a new rocket like this in 30 years. We were learning quit a bit at that time. So what was going through my mind? Wow, can I really do this job? Then as I came onto the project I realized there was an amazing team. One of the great things about an Ares I-X and any project like this is that no one person can do it. We all have to work together. Do you remember back in school you would get these team projects and sometimes it would be one person would do all the work? And there were some slackers. You can’t have that on a project like this. Everybody is important. Everybody carries a piece of the load. You can’t do it without each other. That teaming, that coming together and everybody really needing to know their stuff and kicking in and covering for each other, that was just amazing. So, I feel like I did fine. I guess we’ll find out in a few minutes.

all laughing

CHRIS: It’s all about the data, though.

JILL: It’s all about the data.

BLAIR: Weather permitting, we want to be sensitive to that. We have another question via email. The conceptual images of Ares show the second stage is covered in the orange foam, similar to the Shuttle’s external tank. Ares I-X is all white. Is the foam not there or has it been painted like Columbia’s first launch?

CHRIS: Good question.

JILL: This is a sub-orbital flight so we don’t need the same kinds of thermal protection and it is painted. Actually it is funny. The decals you see on the rocket, right when I was coming on the program, the decals went on. It took us a little bit to realize that was actually interfering with the white paint. We had to actually check and make sure that was okay from a thermal perspective. My buddy, Ruth, who does all the thermal analysis on the rocket, had to run some numbers and make sure that was all okay. And it was.

BLAIR: We want to give a shout out to Ruth. Good job! That’s awesome.



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