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  [STS-1] Space shuttle ejection system sled test

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Author Topic:   [STS-1] Space shuttle ejection system sled test
Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-07-2013 01:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In May 1977, NASA conducted a test of the space shuttle escape system using a rocket sled, Lockheed's STS-71 ejection seat crew escape system, and a pressure-suited dummy at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.

(NASA photos via Apollo Mission Photos)

The sled-mounted cockpit mockup seems to still exist (or at least this is a more recent photo):

Anyone know of a source for the film/video footage from the test?

albatron
Member

Posts: 2103
From: Stuart, Florida, USA
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 02-07-2013 02:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for albatron   Click Here to Email albatron     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great pics - is that a test dummy or human, do you know? I've found some covers of this with a subject named "Engle" on them.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-07-2013 02:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It was a dummy... thankfully — given this account by a colleague of a friend:
The test worked fine with the overhead hatch blowing off and the ejection seat with a dummy shot out and the chute opened. Then you could see the hatch fly down and slice the dummy in half. OOPS!

328KF
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Posts: 829
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Registered: Apr 2008

posted 02-07-2013 07:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While I don't have video of this particular sled test, this is an interesting clip of an escape capsule test that was done for the B-1A Lancer program. This capsule was only installed on the first few aircraft, but held quite a large crew.

It recovered on three parachutes and was cushioned on impact by large inflatable airbags.

I posted this because it's interesting to think about what kinds of escape systems were being considered for the shuttle, and now for the new generation of spacecraft. Weight and complexity are always major factors in a spacecraft, and these issues caused a capsule system to be briefly considered and dismissed in the redesign after Challenger.

If you are going to consider this type of system for a winged vehicle, it would obviously have to be integrated from the outset. With the modern use of lightweight metals and composites, perhaps something like this could improve the chances of survival for future astronauts and space tourists.

OV-105
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Posts: 589
From: Ridgecrest, CA USA
Registered: Sep 2000

posted 02-08-2013 07:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for OV-105   Click Here to Email OV-105     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The one time a B-1 (the B-1A's have 4 ejection seats) had to use the system it did not work too well and killed a pilot.

Apollo-Soyuz
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Posts: 868
From: Shady Side, Md
Registered: Sep 2004

posted 02-10-2013 02:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Apollo-Soyuz   Click Here to Email Apollo-Soyuz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The covers for these tests were serviced by Stan Henderson of 3-Muscateers cachets. About 100-150 covers serviced for each test.

There was a series of 9 sled tests between December 1, 1976 and May 5, 1977. I have shown 8 of the tests.

------------------
John Macco
Space Unit #1457

gliderpilotuk
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Posts: 3043
From: London, UK
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 02-11-2013 03:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by OV-105:
The one time a B-1 (the B-1A's have 4 ejection seats) had to use the system it did not work too well and killed a pilot.

Which is a bit surprising given the success of the F-111 escape capsule that saved countless lives.

What speed was the shuttle ejection system tested at? I can't believe anything less than a capsule escape would have been survivable....even if you did miss the escape hatch.

Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 02-12-2013 10:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by gliderpilotuk:
Which is a bit surprising given the success of the F-111 escape capsule that saved countless lives.

Not really surprising at all given that the F-111 crew capsule is a bit less heavy than the B-1A system was. The reason for the death wasn't so much the capsule's ejection sequence, but rather the crazy angle the thing impacted at and essentially (as I understand it) the pilot got thrown into a wall practically. Since the B-1B was going for low altitude high speed penetration, ejection seats were considered better since they were a more easily understood system.

All times are CT (US)

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