An exhilarating joy ride for many tourists, will soon be a safety net for astronauts at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station--in Florida, should they encounter any issues on the ground.
"If something should develop, whether it's an issue with pressurization in the rocket, or a leak and the situation is dangerous--so dangerous, you don't want to send someone in to rescue them, the crew is probably their own best asset to get out of the vehicle safely," said Boeing Starliner Crew and Mission Systems Director Chris Ferguson.
Ferguson was involved with NASA for 13 years, and flew on three different space missions to the International Space Station.
Boeing and United Launch Alliance are installing an Emergency Egress System--or EES--at the Space Launch Complex-41, ahead of eight different CST-100 Starliner launches atop the ULA Atlas V rocket.
The EES is modeled after what's called an "off the shelf" system--the same system that takes 25,000 across the Royal Gorge every year.
It was developed by a company called Terra-Nova LLC, who won the bid for the emergency system's design.
"It's doesn't have a whole lot of avionics or bells and whistles. It's a standard seat with a braking system on a zip line," said ULA Human and Commercial Systems Vice President Gary Wentz.
"The fact that people are putting their kids and families on this system proves that if it was good enough for the general public to use in a recreational sense, we could use it to meet our general requirements," he added.
This type of escape system has never been needed to use an escape system on the ground in the past.
But if they ever do, the crew would have 90 seconds to get out of the spacecraft, and 30 seconds to get to the swing.
The only main difference is in the design of the seat, which has been modified to accommodate space suits versus street clothes.
Otherwise, the evacuation would be similar to what you'd experience on this zip line.
"The speeds are comparable--about 40-45 mph. Actually the system we have at Launch Complex 41 in Florida is 200 feet longer than this one," Ferguson.
All eight crews will travel to the International Space Station.
The date of the first launch has not been scheduled yet.
Quelle: KOAA NEWS 5