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  Pad 39A: Slidewire baskets slide into history

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Author Topic:   Pad 39A: Slidewire baskets slide into history
Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-19-2012 05:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Slidewire baskets slide into history

On Friday, March 16 at Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39A, technicians released for a final time the seven slidewire baskets from the 195-foot level. After the baskets reached the ground, they were to be removed and put in storage.

The system of seven slidewire baskets provided an escape route for personnel inside the orbiter or on the orbiter access arm. The baskets were suspended from slidewires that extended from the pad's Fixed Service Structure to a landing zone 1,200 feet to the west. Each basket could hold up to three people.

A braking system catch net and drag chain slowed and then halted the baskets sliding down the wire approximately 55 miles per hour in about half a minute.


Photo credit: NASA/Frankie Martin

turtle photography
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From: lincoln, nebraska, usa
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posted 03-19-2012 08:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for turtle photography   Click Here to Email turtle photography     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No one got one last ride?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-19-2012 08:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If I am not mistaken, only three people ever rode the slidewire. In July 1988, Charlie Bolden first rode down alone, and then repeated the 50 mph, 1,200 foot ride with Albert Bumgardner, a closeout crew member, and George Hoggard, a fire rescue crewman.

dabolton
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posted 03-19-2012 08:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dabolton   Click Here to Email dabolton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm curious as to why only three people rode it; it doesn't seem inherently any more dangerous than zip lining. Is there any video footage of the baskets in motion showing a hard stop at the end?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-19-2012 09:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Air & Space Magazine interviewed Hoggard about the ride in 1996:
Riding the slide wires has its own risks — ones serious enough that during the abort simulations NASA fills the baskets with weights and dummies rather than people. But the agency has man-rated the system. George Hoggard, a training officer on the pad rescue team, is one of only three people who have ever ridden in a slide-wire basket at the launch pad. The ride began 195 feet above the ground and ended 21 seconds later. The basket reached 53 mph before striking the net.

The only part of the ride Hoggard found unnerving came near the end, when the basket slapped the restraining net with a bang. "It was like a shotgun going off," Hoggard says. "But nothing hurt, so I figured I was still okay." The net and drag chain broke free from their poles, as they were designed to do, and the chain dragged through sand to bring the basket to a gradual stop.

As for video, there is a first-person view in the IMAX film The Dream is Alive.

Jay Chladek
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posted 03-20-2012 06:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is indeed a lot of mass in those baskets, so I am not surprised that they only man rated it with three people and never did practical demonstrations. Even during Gemini according to Guenter Wendt's book "The Unbroken Chain" after the initial development and testing, they had to take steps to curb anyone just using it after a pad worker almost collided with an extended crane arm under the slide wire in the dark. So, no more joy rides were allowed.

Now I can remember in the Apollo 7 episode of From the Earth to the Moon that they reenacted a zip line escape drill. At the end, they had Mark Harmon in a harness hanging near the shuttle slide wire recovery area (they used closeups at one of the shuttle pads for some stuff in at least two episodes). Anyone know if they used the shuttle slide wire for that or if they mocked up another zip line and had its finishing point just near the normal recovery area for background filler (complete with the fire department's M-113s)?

spaceman1953
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From: South Bend, IN United States of America
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posted 03-21-2012 10:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceman1953   Click Here to Email spaceman1953     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
So since these are "retired," it brings to mind a question: Who has a Billy Pugh net in their collection?

BMckay
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posted 03-22-2012 06:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for BMckay   Click Here to Email BMckay     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
How about moving it to the KSC VC, modify it and make it a ride. I would move it to the shuttle pad viewing area and make a smaller and shorter ride to use at that stop on the tour. That is, unless they are discontinuing that stop.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 03-22-2012 07:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You know, I had thought the same thing. Between the Shuttle Launch Experience and the slidewire baskets, that would make for one neat theme park....

onesmallstep
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posted 03-22-2012 03:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
...and don't forget a ride in one of the M-113s with a fire helmet on!

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 03-22-2012 03:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Actually, I think driving the M-113s would be more fun.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-28-2012 10:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA video release
Emergency Egress Slidewire Baskets Released for the Final Time

At Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the seven slidewire baskets travel down to the ground for the final time after being released by technicians from the 195-foot level.

The system of seven slidewire baskets at launch pads A and B provided an escape route for astronauts and personnel inside the orbiter or on the orbiter access arm. The baskets are suspended from slidewires that extend from the pad's Fixed Service Structure to a landing zone 1,200 feet to the west. Each basket could hold up to three people.

A braking system catch net and drag chain slowed and then halted the baskets sliding down the wire at approximately 55 miles per hour in about half a minute.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 03-29-2012 06:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm hoping that either an actual basket or a replica will make its way to a museum, where people can climb in the thing, even if they can't slide down in it.

How far off the ground are the baskets when they stop? And how do the astronauts get out of the basket? Have they practiced in full LES getting out of the basket and running to an M-113?

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
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posted 03-29-2012 03:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Hart Sastrowardoyo:
I'm hoping that either an actual basket or a replica will make its way to a museum, where people can climb in the thing, even if they can't slide down in it.
My understanding is that originally, NASA (through its partnership with the GSA) had awarded the baskets to museums but then decided to retain them for future use.

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