NASA to request Ares V, Altair technology ideas in January

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NASA in January will ask for industry's help in conquering "key" Ares V heavylift cargo launch vehicle and Altair lunar lander design considerations and trades,

For the Ares V, officials says there will be "multiple awards" for each of five work packages - Earth departure stage, core stage, first stage, avionics and shroud - to be issued next spring. NASA plans to begin detailed development of the booster in 2011, with a first test flight expected in 2018.

Composite technologies will play a dominant role in the request for proposals, including solutions for how to manufacture 10m (33ft) diameter composite barrels for the core stage and other components, among the largest composite structures ever to be assembled, says NASA.

Other composite-related technologies being sought include damage tolerance and detection, solid rocket motor composite metals, composites joining techniques, non-autoclave construction, composite dry structure development and composite damage failure detection for launch aborts. In addition to composites, Ares V technology needs also include long-term cryogenic fluid management and nozzle sensitivity to pocketing.

For Altair, technology requirements include designs for composite primary structures and crew compartment pressure vessels, cryogenic fluid management and a "highly reliable" LOX/LH2 throttling engine. NASA plans to hold an industry day in November in advance of the RFP release.