August 18, 2018

Photos: Astronauts trained in emergency procedures at Atlas 5 launch pad


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Several NASA astronauts, plus Boeing test pilot Chris Ferguson, recently participated in a training session at Cape Canaveral, practicing how they would evacuate from the Atlas 5 rocket’s launch pad in the event of a countdown emergency.

Strapped into patented harnesses, the astronauts rode zip lines leading from the 172-foot-level (52-meter) of the Crew Access Tower at Cape Canaveral’s Complex 41 launch pad to a point around 1,300 feet (400 meters) away, where an armored Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle waited to carry them away from the pad.

The commercial off-the-shelf zip line evacuation system was installed by Boeing and United Launch Alliance for astronauts and pad workers to escape a dangerous emergency during final countdown procedures ahead of launches of Atlas 5 rockets carrying CST-100 Starliner crew capsules.

The function of the zip lines is similar to the purpose of slidewire baskets used on NASA’s former shuttle launch pads at the Kennedy Space Center. In the case of a countdown emergency before a shuttle launch, crews would ride the slidewire baskets to an M113 armored personnel carrier, which they would drive to safety.

Astronauts riding the zip lines from the Complex 41 launch pad can reach top speeds of up to 40 mph (64 kilometers per hour).

Boeing test pilot Chris Ferguson is helped into his spacesuit ahead of emergency egress training at United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5 launch pad at Cape Canaveral in June. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
NASA astronaut Nicole Mann is helped into her spacesuit ahead of emergency egress training at United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5 launch pad at Cape Canaveral in June. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
Cape Canaveral’s Complex 41 launch pad is the launch site for United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5 rocket. Credit: NASA/Cory Huston
NASA astronaut Suni Willams puts on her spacesuit ahead of emergency egress training at United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5 launch pad at Cape Canaveral in June. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
NASA astronauts Bob Behnken (left) and Suni Williams (right) put on their spacesuits ahead of emergency egress training at Cape Canaveral’s Complex 41 launch pad. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
Two Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, or MRAPs, wait for astronauts to conduct emergency egress training at Cape Canaveral’s Complex 40 launch pad. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
Astronauts ride zip lines from the Crew Access Tower at Cape Canaveral’s Complex 41 launch pad. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
Astronauts Chris Ferguson and Suni Williams arrive at an emergency evacuation point after riding zip lines from the Crew Access Tower. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
An astronaut climbs into a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
Astronauts ride zip lines from the Crew Access Tower during emergency egress training. Credit: NASA/Frank Michaux
Astronauts Bob Behnken and Nicole Mann participate in emergency egress training at Cape Canaveral’s Complex 41 launch pad. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
Astronauts ride zip lines from the Crew Access Tower during emergency egress training. Credit: NASA/Frank Michaux
Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles drive away from Cape Canaveral’s Complex 41 launch pad. Credit: NASA/Frank Michaux
A commercial crew astronaut participates in emergency training. Credit: NASA/Frank Michaux
A commercial crew astronaut participates in emergency training. Credit: NASA/Frank Michaux

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.


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