Six is a perfect number. Take a six-pack, for instance. Six string guitars entertain us. Six hundred and sixty-six is the sum of all numbers on a roulette wheel. Six geese a-laying. The midpoint of the year, the sixth month, is this very month of June.
But the number six also has a dark side. The number of feet a coffin is buried below ground. Used three times, it is called the mark of the devil. Concealed under pony tails and goatees it has historically said to have been associated with wayward Emperors. Indeed, it does not take a sixth sense to know that the number foretells ill fortunes.
For six is the number of the Beast. And today we are learning that the Beast is being born in our midst. The Beast has a name and it is ARES-5...or should it now be called ARES-6?
Conceived in haste by the Emperor, hell-bent on putting steroids into all that was good, ARES-5 resulted from the still birth of ESAS. Designed to carry the payloads that will build and support a lunar base, it was originally to have been built from hand-me-down shuttle and EELV hardware. Powered by five "almost off-the shelf" RS-68 engines, ARES-5 would inherit its sidekicks from its little brother, the ARES-1 (1+5=6!).
However, like the chair unable to hold up its program manager, ARES-5 cannot get its payload, the overweight lunar lander, off the ground. So a sixth upgraded RS-68 engine must be employed. Using new math first promoted at the time of ESAS, the five segment solid rocket motors strapped on its side will each get an extra half-segment to upgrade performance. But even school kids, counting segments independent of their length, know the real number of solid segments that will be used: six.
Each extra RS-68 will add a minimum of $20M to the already prohibitively expensive design. That is before all of the issues associated with human rating are finally addressed. While significant unanticipated (by some) resources are being expended to change the destructive tone of the five segment stick for ARES-1, perhaps the vibrations added by the pipe organ motor's sixth segment will only be on the order of a major sixth?
Of course, we are not ready to dispense with irony. With all of these changes the ARES-5/6 becomes too heavy to be transported out of the VAB by the existing mobile launch platforms. And after all that, when all risks are accounted for, the bottom line is that it is still unable to meet its lift capability goal. Care to guess by how much? Yep, six mT.
Such is the mark of the Beast. Hidden behind a veil of darkness, the truth continues to be obscured by the Emperor with six degreees and his six evil minions. Even now, years later, our soon to be Italian waiter, Steve Cook, continues to pitch his revisionist history of how he led his minions out of the darkness after "15 months of debate" following the announcement of the Vision for Space Exploration. Just google his charts from the April, 2008 In2:Inthinking Forum and turn to page...wait for it...six!