Wednesday, June 17, 2009

50 YA: Launch escape system tests

As the design of the Mercury spacecraft proceeded, engineers realized they needed a way to get the astronaut away from the rocket should there be an imminent danger of explosion before or during liftoff. The designers came up with a system of towers connected to the top of the capsules equipped with solid chemical motors which could quickly lift the capsule, with its occupants, rapidly up and away from the explosion danger area. Fifty years ago today, the first test of those motors began. The first flight tests would begin August of 1959.

NASA has not given up on testing new ways to protect astronauts. On the 20th of June NASA will test a concept vehicle designed to test new theories on how to protect astronauts in the future. The launch will take place at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

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