NASA's New Ejector System Borrows Tech From Yesterday's Apollo Program

If something goes wrong with the upcoming space shuttle replacement program, and we hope it does not, this is what could save the astronauts' lives. As they hurdle hundreds of miles per hour into the heavens, and their ship begins to break apart, mission control will scream "ABORT!" (or perhaps something a bit more technical), and the astronauts will be ejected from the capsule with a force that's actually much greater than the g's they'll experience during launch.What you're seeing above is a test of this new ejector seat system, dubbed the Launch Abort System. It burns through half of its fuel in three seconds flat, NASA says, but then again if you're escaping from an exploding, disintegrating tin can filled with jet fuel, that's kind of the idea.

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Illustration for article titled NASA's New Ejector System Borrows Tech From Yesterday's Apollo Program

Fun fact: Like much of the Orion capsule/Areas rocket program, this ejector mechanism is also an example of NASA going back in time to deliver tomorrow's explorers to the moon. In the LAS's case, the Apollo program's old-school abort system is the inspiration. [Wired]

DISCUSSION

Well, if you ask "why" do something different, I have a little bit of a different take on it. The problem with the new Orion plan is that it has drastically reduced capability compared to the Shuttle. I haven't seen anything to suggest how those capabilities will be restored in the future. For example, could Orion accomplish a Hubble servicing mission? No. Could Orion be used in the construction of something like the ISS? Not as I understand it. And so on. I think Orion is a good vehicle for getting to and from ISS, but it seems to have limited use for anything else.