frank224 Report This Comment
Date: March 05, 2009 06:58PM
A little-known component on the space shuttle that NASA doesn't like to talk
about is the self-destruct mechanism or, as they like to call it, "Flight
In the event that the space shuttle flies out of a specific flight path over the
Atlantic and it appears that it will impact a populated area, an Air Force
officer would flip the switch which would detonate charges in the booster
rocket, destroying the shuttle and crew.
If the shuttle manages to fly for two minutes, the booster rockets fall away
taking the charges with them after which, if a problem arises, the crew can
either ditch the ship into the Atlantic, evacuating via parachutes, or orbit the
Earth once and land at Edwards Air Force Base.
After the destruction of Challenger, the charges were used to remotely detonate
the booster rockets that continued to fly out of control after the explosion.
FrostedApe Report This Comment
Date: March 05, 2009 11:45PM
So, who's the guy with big enough balls to push that "Test" switch?
90130_ Report This Comment
Date: March 06, 2009 12:30AM
Y'know, I've often wondered how difficult it would be to allow the crew cabin
to separate from the payload section in the event of an unrecoverable
Russian Soyuz rockets have had this feature for years. This was actually used
once to blow the crew capsule completely clear of the vehicle to safety when a
launch pad fire went out of control.