...Ingalls Shipbuilding Gulfport Operations is known for its work building
composite structure for the Navy’s fleet.
...But less known is that it also ventured into aerospace when it built a
composite fairing for NASA’s now-aborted Constellation Program.
...While the Gulfport Center for Composites excellence was still part of defense
giant Northrop Grumman, workers at the Gulfport operation built the nose
piece, called a fairing, for the Max Launch Abort System.
...The MLAS was designed to provide a quick escape from a launch vehicle, the
Ares I, in case of emergency on the launch pad or in the initial stages of launch.
...The MLAS concept for an operational vehicle would have four or more solid
rocket motors attached inside the bullet-shaped composite fairing. In case of an
emergency, it would propel the crew module and associated fairing from the
Ares I rocket, far away from the potential danger.
...The MLAS was successfully tested at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in
Virginia in June of 2009. In the test, the MLAS demonstration vehicle consisted
of a full-scale composite fairing, a full-scale crew module simulator and four
solid rocket abort motors mounted in the boost skirt, with motor mass
simulators in the forward fairing.
...The Max system was named for Maxime (Max) Faget, a Mercury-era pioneer.
- David Tortorano
Shipbuilding center ventures into space