Zip Lines Installed at SLC-41 for Starliner Missions

Engineers evaluate the Emergency Egress System as they ride in folding seats attached to slide wires at Space Launch Complex 41. United Launch Alliance and Boeing continue modifications to the pad in order to host missions by the Boeing CST-100 Starliner carrying astronauts and crew. The system recently completed its final test. In the unlikely event of an emergency prior to liftoff, each person on the Crew Access Tower would get into their own seat attached to the wire and slide more than 1,340 feet to a safe area. The wires are situated 172 feet above the pad deck on level 12 of the tower. The Starliner will launch on a ULA Atlas V on mission to low-Earth orbit including those flying astronauts to the International Space Station during missions by NASA's Commercial Crew Program. Photo credit: NASA/Leif Heimbold

ULA Emergency Egress System (EES) Demonstration from the Crew Access Tower at Pad 41.

Engineers tested a new slide wire emergency escape system at Space Launch Complex 41 as United Launch Alliance continues to modify the pad for upcoming launches of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft aboard ULA’s Atlas V rockets on missions to and from the International Space Station.

There are seats in place on four wires so up to 20 astronauts and ground support personnel can quickly get down from the tower in case a dangerous situation develops during the countdown. The system has been designed with the astronauts’ suit in mind, including making the seats easier to get into and the handles that control speed on the way down easy to operate.

The crew access tower is new to the launch complex, which has hosted uncrewed spacecraft and rockets for years. The egress system is located on the same level as the crew access arm, which provides the connection for astronauts to enter the Starliner spacecraft on top of the Atlas V rocket. It is the first new emergency evacuation system that has been installed at the Florida spaceport since the slide wire baskets used during the Space Shuttle Program.

Apollo missions had similar escape systems in place on its launch towers. The systems have never been needed in an emergency, but are required in case a condition develops before launch that prohibits those on the tower from taking the elevator down to safety. See our photos of the new system on Commercial Crew Program’s Flickr album at https://go.nasa.gov/1EVPaCG Photo credit: NASA/Leif Heimbold

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