• Question: What would your first course of action be if the rocket went of course?

    Asked by Sam to COLFlight on 16 Oct 2015.
    • Photo: Columbus Flight Directors

      Columbus Flight Directors answered on 16 Oct 2015:

      Hi there!
      every rocket with astronauts on board is equipped with an escape tower, which is that candle-like spike that you see at the very top of the rocket. You can see taht here for example:

      As a matter of fact, this is a small rocket with very strong thrust that, if there is some failure with the rocket, pulls out very quickly only the spacecraft where the astronauts are and saves them. That rocket is small, so it can’t be used to arrive in space, it will only burn for few seconds and then, when the astronauts spacecraft is at a safe distance from the failing rocket, the parachutes will open and they will return safely to ground.

      In histrory, it happened only two times that such escape tower was used, and in both occasions it save the astronauts!
      The most recent one was in 1983, you can see a video of the failed launch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyFF4cpMVag