As we all know, Ares I was to be the Crewed Exploration Vehicle (CEV) launcher of the Constellation program. It was based on a 5 segment SRB design, with a J-2X engine as an upper stage.

Ares I

It was to be complemented by the larger Ares V, which would be the cargo hauler of the program. Before the program was cancelled in 2010, it underwent a single flight test, called Ares I-X, but there was criticism that it was for "show only" due to the fact that it featured an inert upper stage, and a 4 segment SRB.

I have only ever seen references to them rather than detailed documents, but I have heard that during the Ares I program, the vehicle had vibration issues, launch abort scenarios did not look survivable, and that the vehicle and capsule had mass problems; and that overall the system was over budget and could face delays.

Is there any truth to these claims? Would someone be able to give a brief bullet point analysis on the problems the vehicle was facing?


1 Answer 1


Beyond vibration issues, which they were trying to address with a weight to detune the vibration mode, they had an abort issue. The possible blast radius of an SRB was greater than the abort range of Orion, and most likely the parachutes would come back down through the blast and likely melt.

  • $\begingroup$ ...so why not give the Orion a more powerful LES to compensate? $\endgroup$
    – Vikki
    Commented Jul 5, 2019 at 2:32

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