Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Rocket Science

SpaceX continues to impress me.

Their latest? A launch abort system that works throughout the ascent stage.

Traditional launch abort systems have worked by pulling the crew capsule clear from the launch tower. Once the rocket is above the tower, that's it. The system is detached and if anything goes wrong, you're dead...and many of us still remember Challenger.

The new system is called a "pusher" system. Engines built in to the crew capsule will fire to throw it clear of the rocket, aiming it out over the ocean, where it will splash down safety.

The same engines will, eventually, be used to land the capsule after trips, allowing for reuse.

Boeing is working on a similar system for their manned rockets.

This is why NASA should focus on science and allow businesses to design ships for them - it seems to be giving us a higher level of innovation and lower costs. And now, hopefully, higher crew and passenger safety.