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Damburger
2007-Aug-09, 12:03 AM
I'm sure this has probably mentioned before, but this documentary claims, amongst other things, that the escape system on the Saturn V could never have worked, because it wouldn't have been able to react to a catastrophic failure fast enough to let them get away from an exploding rocket.

Is this true?

Van Rijn
2007-Aug-09, 12:39 AM
I'm sure this has probably mentioned before, but this documentary claims, amongst other things, that the escape system on the Saturn V could never have worked, because it wouldn't have been able to react to a catastrophic failure fast enough to let them get away from an exploding rocket.

Is this true?

What Apollo 11 documentary is that? Jay could give you a detailed answer, but I'm not sure if Jay frequents SMaL. You might want to PM him. The short version is that whether the launch escape system could be successful or not would depend on the nature of the emergency and when it was decided to use the LES.

Here's a Soviet example where a similar system was used successfully:

http://www.astronautix.com/flights/soyzt101.htm

Damburger
2007-Aug-09, 12:42 AM
Sorry, I meant to include a link:

http://www.tv-links.co.uk/listings/9/5963

The emergency was the failure of one engine during the first couple of minutes of launch.

ToSeek
2007-Aug-09, 01:39 AM
That was a really dreadful documentary. It overdramatized everything that went the least bit wrong on the mission, making it sound as if the astronauts dodged one bullet after another.

Dr Nigel
2007-Aug-09, 06:06 PM
ToSeek, I agree, even though I haven't seen it. Just the blurb in that link is enough to switch me off. The Apollo engineers and flight planners anticipated failures - this is why they built in so much redundancy and why the crews were drilled repeatedly in the simulators, with the controllers throwing failure after failure at them to get them accustomed to the back-up procedures and the sound of alarms going off.

Fazor
2007-Aug-09, 07:18 PM
I relatively recently read an article about the new escape system NASA is designing, and it gave the impression that the older system was inadequate if it needed to escape extreemely quickly. That doesn't mean it was bad, or worthless, just that they knew in an extreeme emergency it probably wouldn't work. You can't safeguard *everything*.

Besides, it's easy to sit back after the fact and nitpik everything that could have gone wrong.

Damburger
2007-Aug-09, 08:16 PM
That was a really dreadful documentary. It overdramatized everything that went the least bit wrong on the mission, making it sound as if the astronauts dodged one bullet after another.

I didn't think it was that bad at all. Lots of people are a bit blase about the moon missions and say "why can't we just do it again?". The documentary shows that the missions were difficult, dangerous, and always one misstep away from catastrophe - like all space missions.

jamestox
2007-Aug-09, 08:18 PM
Any launch escape system is limited in its ability to leave a danger area (blast radius, etc) by that which it is rescuing! If the system accelerates more quickly from the danger area (i.e. high G) than the astronauts can physically take, that system is useless. Dead is dead. The key is in early warning of impending disaster - and with modern microcomputer systems and sensors, the new system might have a better chance of an "early getaway" than the older systems.

captain swoop
2007-Aug-09, 10:54 PM
I agree with toSeek, it was terrible, it even went through the UFO following them rubbish. I am certain it was made by HBs in disguise.

AGN Fuel
2007-Aug-10, 04:10 AM
I relatively recently read an article about the new escape system NASA is designing, and it gave the impression that the older system was inadequate if it needed to escape extreemely quickly. That doesn't mean it was bad, or worthless, just that they knew in an extreeme emergency it probably wouldn't work. You can't safeguard *everything*.

Precisely - no doubt there would have been circumstances where the escape system would have been ineffective.

My response to this though would be to remember Apollo 12. After being struck by lightning and suffering what would have been a shocking loss of electrical systems, it would have been easy for Conrad to abort (in fact, that he didn't is testimony to the fact those guys had iced water for blood!). He chose not to and the electrical systems were restored. However, the simple fact that he could have aborted if necessary attests to the fact that the system was capable of covering at least some catastrophic contingencies.

This episode alone shows the system had a functionality that demonstrates the argument in the documentary as invalid.

AGN Fuel
2007-Aug-10, 04:22 AM
The emergency was the failure of one engine during the first couple of minutes of launch.

What - you mean, like this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_13)? ;)


The flight's problems began during the liftoff with a lesser-known malfunction: during the second-stage burn, the center engine shut down two minutes early.

Larry Jacks
2007-Aug-10, 01:03 PM
I think the film claimed that if a Saturn V lost one of the F-1 engines almost immediately after liftoff, the rocket would've tipped over so quickly that the launch escape system would not have been able to save the crew. For all I know, that may be true. Every escape system has an operational envelop. If you're outside of that envelop, you aren't going to survive.