June 14, 2017 – President and CEO of United Launch Alliance, Tory Bruno, yesterday tried out the Emergency Egress System (EES) that will allow astronauts to quickly evacuate the Crew Access Tower (CAT) for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule in case of an anomaly.
The egress cables are situated on level 12 of the CAT, 172 feet above the Space Launch Complex 41 pad deck at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and will allow the crew to evacuate to a landing zone more than 1,340 feet from the launch vehicle. The EES can accommodate up to 20 personnel, including ground crew and flight crew.
Terra-Nova, LLC — a company that designs and builds zip lines for recreational use — offered an EES based on their “off-the-shelf,” patented designs. The design was easily adaptable to ULA’s specific needs, while offering an unmatched safety record, and provides the best overall value.
In only 30 seconds, the rider reaches a top speed of 40 mph. The riders control the speed by releasing pressure on the handles, with the ability to glide to a gentle stop at the landing zone. There are 30 feet of springs on each cable located in the landing area to gradually slow a rider down if they forget to brake.
Most notable after yesterday’s demo was a string of tweets by Wayne Hale, former Space Shuttle Program Manager & Flight Director for 40 missions.
Following testing of the EES in April, Gary Wentz, vice president of Human & Commercial Services for ULA said, “ULA is absolutely focused on the safety of the crews we will be supporting, and, although we hope to never use it, we are excited to announce the Emergency Egress System is fully operational.” Wentz joined Bruno for the demo ride yesterday.
The Boeing Company is developing Starliner and selected ULA’s Atlas V rocket for human-rated spaceflight to the International Space Station under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The Starliner is designed to accommodate seven passengers, or a mix of crew and cargo, for missions to low-Earth orbit. For NASA service missions to the International Space Station, it will carry up to four NASA-sponsored crew members and time-critical scientific research.