Friday, August 7, 2009

Nicole Watch

Astronauts practice escaping today. The astronauts spent Thursday getting familiar with the launch tower escape system. The system comprises seven metal baskets that would zip down a 1,200-foot slidewire to a bunker on the outer perimeter of the launch complex.

Today, the astronauts will don partial-pressure launch-and-entry suits and ride an elevator up to the 195-foot level of the launch tower. They'll then enter the orbiter Discovery and strap into seats. NASA's shuttle launch team will conduct the final hours of a practice countdown.

Countdown clocks will come to a halt at T-minus 4 seconds. The launch team will simulate a main engine shutdown and the astronauts will go through an emergency escape drill. They climb into the baskets, which also are on the 195-foot level of the tower, but they will not ride down the slidewire.

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