• Question: What do you do to make space launch safer?

    Asked by 11CSpaldingHS to Jon, Anne, Beth, COLFlight, Tom on 14 Oct 2015. This question was also asked by Nicola_Leah_Max, Davina_Poppy_Pearl, curlygirl, SpaldingHighSchool9S.
    • Photo: Columbus Flight Directors

      Columbus Flight Directors answered on 14 Oct 2015:

      Hi all!
      This is a very interesting question, that would require some months to be explained fully! 🙂

      When we build a spaceship, whether it’s a rocket or the space station, we build in it a lot of redundancies. This means that we build every functionality in a way that even if it breaks, there is another piece that can do the same job. This is called “failure tolerant” design.

      Actually, for what is life threatening for the astronauts, we build things 2 or even 3 failures tolerant, which means that even if the second piece fails after the first one has failed, there is a third one which can still do the same job. With that, we make sure that even with multiple failures, the astronaut’s life will not be at risk.

      For rockets, we also mount an escape tower on top of the rocket. This is the candle-like thing that you see on top of every rocket: in case of rocket failure, this escape tower is a small rocket that pulls the spacecraft away very quickly and saves the astronauts.
      This was used once in 1983, and it saved the life of the astronauts! You can check a video of it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyFF4cpMVag

    • Photo: Beth Healey

      Beth Healey answered on 15 Oct 2015:

      As Sergio says the engineers build in plenty of redundancy to make launches safter for astronaut. Despite this, it remains one of the most dangerous parts of a flight to the ISS.

      My job isn’t focused on the launch but instead making spaceflight in general safer for astronauts by finding out about new ways to help protect their health.