Author Topic: Alarms etc at orbital launch pads?  (Read 1474 times)

Offline kwan3217

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Alarms etc at orbital launch pads?
« on: 10/20/2023 04:19 pm »
This morning I saw that the Starship stack had been stacked again, and when I went back and reviewed the stream looking for when the lift occurred, I heard a loud siren and an indistinct voice announcement, probably warning that a big heavy thing was about to be moved.

That triggered a few related thoughts:
* In the old Imax Space Shuttle movies, they would show a peaceful day on the launch pad, just like any other, when suddenly and without warning the vehicle lights up and takes off.
* I worked with a team doing a science experiment on a sounding rocket, which included a video camera. Even though all humans had cleared the launcher and none are supposed to be closer than the blockhouse 1000 feet away, the countdown was carried on the loudspeakers around the launcher, and was clearly audible in the video recording. Those speakers were announcing to literally no one.
* Related to the sounding rocket experiment, we test it with a synchrotron. The synchrotron laboratory is very conscious of radiation safety, so it has a bunch of automatic doors around it, announcements to clear the area whenever a radiation hazard exists, and most notably a set of light switches scattered around the lab. We are all trained that if we hear the alarm and the doors close before we get out, to flip one of the switches which will immediately abort the sequence which causes the radiation hazard.

So my question is this: On any current or near-historical (space shuttle) launch pad, is there a set of loudspeakers and alarms that goes off as part of the countdown near ignition? Is there any kind of "red button" where the launch can be aborted by someone stuck on the pad during a launch? I know that the pad is supposed to be cleared for a launch, but "supposed to be" and "is" are two different things.

Offline Jim

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Re: Alarms etc at orbital launch pads?
« Reply #1 on: 10/20/2023 04:36 pm »
There are warning horns for clearing the pads.   There are always a "red button" for stopping a countdown for any reason.   The PA system is only active when an announcement is needed to be made. There is no running commentary at the pad.  There are no announcements or alarms for the actual launch.  Communications is done by radio or comm end unit.

Pads are cleared and use a two man rule and badge board and have limited tasks to be performed prevent a somebody from being forgotten at the pad.   Now if somebody wanted to do, it might be possible and would involve "camping out" at the pad for a few days and avoiding cameras and sensors.
« Last Edit: 10/20/2023 04:38 pm by Jim »

Offline JAFO

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