Escape baskets for shuttle crews removed from pad

Posted: March 19, 2011

A small but visible sign of the times occurred Saturday at Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39A when technicians removed the seven slidewire baskets that were part of the emergency escape system for space shuttle astronauts.

The baskets were released from the from the 195-foot level of pad's service tower to travel down the wires to the landing zone 1,200 feet to the west for the final time. The baskets are being put in storage.

A braking system catch net and drag chain slowed and then halted the baskets sliding down the wire approximately 55 miles per hour in about half a minute.

The baskets were the heart of the pad evacuation plan if an emergency arose. Crews would have egressed the orbiter, hurried to the other side of the tower and hopped into the carriers to be whisked off the launch gantry and down to the ground bunker. Each basket could hold up to three suited astronauts.

Photo credit: NASA-KSC

Expedition 29 Patch
Space models