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  Apollo-era Pad 39A/B egress and blast-proof room

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Author Topic:   Apollo-era Pad 39A/B egress and blast-proof room
Blackarrow
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Posts: 2233
From: Belfast, United Kingdom
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 03-22-2009 02:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One of the safety features of Pad 39A (and I assume Pad 39B) during the Apollo era was an underground blast-proof chamber into which the crew could slide down an escape-tube. The chamber could protect occupants from the full force of a Saturn V exploding above them.

What happened to these chambers? Are they still available to protect shuttle astronauts in the event of an imminent explosion on the pad, or have they been sealed up and abandoned?

webhamster
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From: Ottawa, Canada
Registered: Jul 2008

posted 03-22-2009 11:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for webhamster     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
They are apparently still there, just locked up and forgotten. The "slide tube" leading to it, however, was apparently removed and capped. You can see some pictures here and here. As well, there are pictures of the STS-114 crew taking a tour of the room at nasaimages.org (search for "rubber room").

DChudwin
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From: Lincolnshire IL USA
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posted 03-23-2009 10:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DChudwin   Click Here to Email DChudwin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is a picture of the escape system I took in July 1969 at Pad 39.

There was a wire that extended from the top of the gantry to a bunker near the pad. There was also an armored vehicle for the astronauts to use to get further away.

Blackarrow
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From: Belfast, United Kingdom
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posted 03-25-2009 06:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The escape route down a slide-wire was a different escape method. The room I mentioned is the one that is actually underneath the pad. Webhamster seems to have answered this question. Thanks!

hoonte
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From: Tervuren, Belgium
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posted 03-25-2009 07:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for hoonte   Click Here to Email hoonte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is also this YouTube clip of the rubber room by James Burke.

Blackarrow
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From: Belfast, United Kingdom
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posted 03-26-2009 08:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It was seeing this film (on a BBC recording about Apollo 11) which triggered my question.

spacecraft films
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From: Columbus, OH USA
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posted 03-26-2009 09:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spacecraft films   Click Here to Email spacecraft films     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is also a reel of film on our Apollo 10 DVD set that has the crew touring the rubber room and going down the slide.

dabolton
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From: Minooka IL, US
Registered: Jan 2009

posted 02-17-2011 05:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dabolton   Click Here to Email dabolton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What launch emergency scenario with an imminent blow up the Saturn V gives you three minutes to escape? Seems as though it would happen quicker than that.

Apollo Redux
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From: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Registered: Sep 2006

posted 02-17-2011 06:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Apollo Redux   Click Here to Email Apollo Redux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by dabolton:
What launch emergency scenario with an imminent blow up the Saturn V gives you three minutes to escape?
Exactly, the key word 'imminent' is basically code for not much of a survivable event.

However, since the U.S conducted their space efforts in full view of the world, and with the unfortunate demise of Apollo 1, they took every possible measure to ensure crew safety - as well as public safety.

The 7.4 miles distance between the pad, and the public viewing area, should indicate not only the danger of a potential Saturn V catastrophe, but also illuminate the odds of a crew surviving that event, within that envelope.

dabolton
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From: Minooka IL, US
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posted 02-17-2011 07:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dabolton   Click Here to Email dabolton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Has anyone ever modeled a Saturn V explosion graphically? The distance to the VAB is only about 3.5 miles if I remember correctly. There was talk that with the Ares V being bigger than the Saturn V that the VAB and public viewing areas might not be far enough away.

jasonelam
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From: Monticello, KY USA
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posted 02-18-2011 09:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jasonelam   Click Here to Email jasonelam     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This website has two links to PDFs that talk about the possibility of a Saturn V exploding.

dabolton
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From: Minooka IL, US
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posted 02-18-2011 10:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dabolton   Click Here to Email dabolton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very interesting read. Would make an impressive mushroom cloud I'm sure.

onesmallstep
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From: Staten Island, New York USA
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posted 02-18-2011 05:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I remember seeing former shuttle astronaut John Herrington give a tour of the 'blast room' and slide chute for a (Science/Discovery channel?) documentary around the time of the sts-125 Hubble repair mission. Very primitive, especially the strap-in chairs (like medieval torture devices) and the extreme heat inside; I guess if the blast didn't kill you, the heatstroke would!

Cozmosis22
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From: Texas * Earth
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posted 05-30-2011 11:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cozmosis22     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is there a thread/discussion here regarding the previously mythical emergency egress survival chamber located under an Apollo launch pad? Found some pics of the bank vault-looking "panic room" under Pad 39B.

Apparently the shuttle astronauts preferred the slidewire method of quickly getting off the pad. The amazing room and associated tunnels were taken out of service decades ago.

Editor's note: Threads merged.

Cozmosis22
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From: Texas * Earth
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posted 05-30-2011 11:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cozmosis22     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for finding this thread!

In the center of that room with 20 chairs is a metal cage. On the outside there were fire blankets mounted in canisters but inside there appears to be a round "hatch" opening on the floor and a ladder going down. Any idea where that goes? Would that be the escape tunnel leading to the pad perimeter?

LM-12
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From: Ontario, Canada
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posted 11-20-2012 03:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Spaceflight Now has this article and several photos about the Pad 39 bunker.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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From: Toms River, NJ
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posted 11-20-2012 06:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The 20 chairs in a circle reminds me of the room used for "Stitch's Great Escape" at Walt Disney World...

Headshot
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From: Streamwood, IL USA
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posted 11-20-2012 07:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wonder if the Soviets had similar provisions for their pad crews and cosmonauts on the N-1 rocket launch pad?

Of course we know that the N-1 launch escape system performed perfectly during the unmanned inflight tests that ended in explosions.

LM-12
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From: Ontario, Canada
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posted 11-20-2012 08:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The article mentions a chute on the north side of the platform. Is that chute the angled structure seen in this Apollo 8 photo?

ilbasso
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From: Greensboro, NC USA
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posted 11-20-2012 10:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ilbasso   Click Here to Email ilbasso     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here's a link to a page on my website (currently under substantial modification) which has a map of the facilities at the pad, including the entrance to the chute to the underground escape facility.

dom
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posted 11-20-2012 02:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Headshot:
I wonder if the Soviets had similar provisions for their pad crews and cosmonauts on the N-1 rocket launch pad?
The Soviets WERE inspired enough by the Apollo escape system to incorporate similar blast rooms into the design of the Buran-Energia launchpads in the 1980s. This system consisted of two enclosed tubes with trolleys for about a dozen people (cosmonauts and personnel) to slide down into underground bunkers etc.

As far as I'm aware they weren't part of the original N1 launchpad design.

LM-12
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From: Ontario, Canada
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posted 11-21-2012 05:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is a photo of the Apollo 10 crew in the underground bunker.

ozspace
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Posts: 163
From: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Registered: May 2009

posted 11-22-2012 04:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ozspace   Click Here to Email ozspace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by LM-12:
The article mentions a chute on the north side of the platform. Is that chute the angled structure seen in this Apollo 8 photo?
Yes, that chute is the slide path leading to the bunker. You can see the chute opening in the MLP in this picture of side 3 on LUT#1.

LM-12
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From: Ontario, Canada
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posted 11-25-2012 09:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is a different view of the escape chute in this Apollo 15 rollout photo.

capoetc
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Posts: 1783
From: Newnan GA (USA)
Registered: Aug 2005

posted 02-09-2013 09:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Cool video on Florida Today about the slide system to the "rubber rooms" under Pads 39A and B.

Rick Teklits
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From: Yardville, NJ USA
Registered: Dec 2010

posted 02-09-2013 11:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Teklits   Click Here to Email Rick Teklits     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ilbasso:
...my website (currently under substantial modification) which has a map of the facilities at the pad
What a great website! I have bookmarked it. Well done!!

YankeeClipper
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From: Dublin, Ireland
Registered: Mar 2011

posted 04-19-2013 09:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Some technical specifications from the Apollo Launch Complex 39 Facilities Handbook – US Army Corps of Engineers Canaveral District – p.47:

Emergency Egress System

Both pads contain a personnel escape system for use in a pre-launch emergency. The system contains a stainless steel chute, approximately 200 feet long, in a superelevated curve that starts at the interface with the Mobile Launcher and terminates 40 feet below the pad structure in a rubber-lined termination room.

A blast resistant room adjacent to the termination room contains 20 contour chairs and safety harnesses as well as survival equipment for a period of 24 hours. The blast room is dome-shaped, 40 feet in diameter, with 2-1/2-foot-thick steel and concrete walls and steel doors designed to withstand a blast pressure of 500 pounds per square inch and an acceleration of 75 Gs. A floating concrete floor supports the contour chairs and is built on a spring suspension system which reduces the 75 G force possible on the dome to 4 Gs.

YankeeClipper
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From: Dublin, Ireland
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posted 04-19-2014 08:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Anyone know if this escape chute photo pertains to LC-39 Pad A/B?

mikej
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From: Germantown, WI USA
Registered: Jan 2004

posted 04-19-2014 05:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mikej   Click Here to Email mikej     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by YankeeClipper:
Some technical specifications from the Apollo Launch Complex 39 Facilities Handbook – US Army Corps of Engineers Canaveral District
This document is available from archive.org.

ozspace
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Posts: 163
From: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Registered: May 2009

posted 08-28-2014 08:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ozspace   Click Here to Email ozspace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Back in the Apollo days, there was an emergency egress system where the crew could take fast elevator to the base of the rocket then jump into a slide tube to a 'rubber room' bunker underneath the pad, as shown by the wonderful James Burke in this video.

Question: Did the procedure call for the crew to doff their helmets, leave them on and just run or grab an air supply on the run? Taking the helmets off would cause delay and possibly reduce gas/heat protection. If they just disconnected, leaving helmets on would there be enough air within the suits? Grabbing an air supply would require connection to the suit, did they have these in the elevator?

Editor's note: Threads merged.

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