NASA has authorized a contract with a maximum value of $16.7 million with Alcoa North American Rolled Products of Bettendorf, Iowa, to supply aluminum lithium plates and metal ingots for early development of the Ares I crew launch vehicles upper stage. The firm fixed-price contract has a period of performance through Aug. 5, 2008.
Ares I is an in-line, two-stage rocket that will transport to low Earth orbit the Orion crew exploration vehicle containing up to six astronauts. The first stage will consist of a single reusable solid rocket booster similar to those used on the space shuttle, with an additional fifth segment. The second, or upper, stage will consist of a J-2X main engine fueled by liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants.