Ares-1 ran a little better than expected

The recent Ares-1 static motor test, which saw the rocket blasting into the sands of the desert, showed that the engine ran quieter than expected with less vibration. This doesn’t mean Ares-1 is out of the woods so far as ‘thrust oscillations’ are concerned – they still happen – but it does mean the oscillations will be less violent and so less stringent measures will be required to combat them.

The oscillations happen because the motor is capable of generating vibrations close to the natural frequency of the rocket, which in turn causes the rocket to resonate and vibrate violently, a danger to any astronauts or equipment on top of the rocket. NASA are working on what is effectively a big shock absorber system to lower the expected vibrations to a reasonable level, though the results of the test flight of the Ares-1X will be required to see just how bad the shocks will be.

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