Launch-Abort Motor For NASA: The Next Generation

NASA is testing the launch-abort motor for the new Constellation program. The test took place November 20th in Promontory, Utah. The launch-abort motor fired for just over five seconds (see video below). More than a half-million pounds of thrust were produced almost immediately upon ignition.


(NASA tests 'ejection seat' motor video)

A flight test for Constellation is planned for next spring at White Sands, NM. That test will use a fully integrated launch-abort system with a full-size model of the Orion crew capsule.

As far as I know, one of the first suggestions that space craft might need ejection seats is Murray Leinster in Space Tug, a 1953 novel.

"Look, Joe! We checked everything last night. We checked it again this morning. I even caught Mike polishing the ejection seats, because there wasn't anything else to make sure of!"

Joe managed a smile. The ejection seats were assuredly the most unlikely of all devices to be useful today. They were supposedly life-saving devices. If the ship came a cropper on take-off, the four of them were supposed to use ejection-seats like those supplied to jet pilots. They would be thrown clear...
(Read more about Leinster's )

Ejector seats for aircraft were first used in Germany in the late 1930's; they were perfected in WWII. The only ejector seats designed and used in spacecraft were installed in the Soviet Vostok craft, and in the American Gemini craft.

From NASA Testing Ejection Seat and NASA Tests Escape Motor for New Moonship.

Note to readers: It occurs to me that this my 2,000th article for Science Fiction in the News. My initial intent was to have a site with a glossary of science-fictional inventions and ideas. After a few weeks, I read about something that made me think "I've seen this before - in sf. Perhaps I'll write an article or two."

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