NASA tests rocket-disaster escape rocket
Firing oneself out of the frying pan
NASA has announced a successful test of its "Max Launch Abort System" (MLAS), essentially a rocket ejector seat writ large and applied to an entire space capsule. The system is designed to let astronauts escape and parachute to safety in the event of a launcher stack crackup.
That's just the ejector seat. Wait till you see the rocket.
The test, in which a mockup capsule was first fired into the sky by MLAS rockets and then parachuted down into the Atlantic, was carried out yesterday at NASA's Wallops Island test facility in Virginia. In a scenario comparable to what would happen in the event of a catastrophe on the launch pad, the MLAS boosted the capsule a mile into the sky before triggering parachutes for a safe ocean splashdown.
The MLAS uses four solid rocket motors built into a fairing attached to the crew capsule and a variety of parachutes to stabilise the hurtling module after it has soared free of its doomed launch stack. The system is named after NASA engineer Maxime (Max) Faget, a pioneer from the days of the Mercury programme.
Despite the MLAS' pleasingly pyrotechnic tests yesterday, NASA has no plans at present to use it on any actual manned spacecraft. The embattled Ares/Orion ("Constellation") plan for an American return to space in the post-Shuttle era - provided it survives the discussions which have followed the economic downturn and the US election - would use a single-rocket abort/escape system more like the escape towers of old.
NASA say that the development of MLAS - and yesterday's test - were nonetheless well worthwhile, as much of the data gleaned will be used in the Constellation programme in one way or another. Assuming Constellation goes ahead, that is.
There are more pics and a vid of the MLAS test here. ®
WTF is wrong with you commentards?
READ about it !
The system IS jettisonned during launch (after the final stage) it is not carried around in space or connected during reentry...
Look at the construction image: you will see it adds a 6ft section to the rocket with 4 solid rocket boosters its a big hollow skirt not much extra mass!!
The escape rockets whether below (in this system) or above (as in previous) the crew module still only lift themselves, the crew module and nose fairing...
The entire vehicle = crew module and nose fairing and escape booster weigh in at a total of 20 tonnes, for the purpose of escape the nose fairing has to carry chutes but the crew module will land using its Normal decent chutes.. this was still the case with the old systems...
The questions that need to be asked are: what is the weight difference from the old system and the new? and what is the survivabuility improvement? ie is it worth it?
remember this escape method has never been used in NASA's entire history.
Don't carry stuff you don't use! - @Schultz
like first aid kits fire extingushers spare rations, flares, gps beacons, personal parartchutes, survival suits....
Not content with re-inventing the wheel...
NASA (Need A Serious Ambition) are now reinventing something they perfected 40 years ago - the Apollo Escape Tower system.
Oh, that's right, the destroyed all the tools, plans and documentation because the Shuttle was All We'd Ever Need.
Paris, because she knows how to get things up.