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NASA Space

NASA Building Giant Roller Coaster For Science 85

Jamie found a story of NASAs Giant "Science" Roller Coaster. It will be used as an escape chute on rocket launchpads, and will be the 3rd highest drop in the world. More like the Cedar Point Demon Drop than a roller coaster, but still, I'd ride it.
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NASA Building Giant Roller Coaster For Science

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  • Oh man. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @09:17AM (#20897675)
    Just be sure you pack the adult diapers for that ride.
    • I hope it is a little sturdier than demon drop.

      It is a great ride but every time I ride it I feel like its about to fall apart (probably because it is 24 years old).
      • The closer to collapse a coaster is, the more exciting. Real danger is way better at getting adrenaline going than just G-Forces and speed.
    • by ehiris ( 214677 )
      Oh yeah, because astronauts poop their pants in free-fall.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by n dot l ( 1099033 )
      "Oh no! The launch is a disaster! To the bunker! Wheeeeeee! Abort! Abort!!"
  • by ryants ( 310088 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @09:18AM (#20897693)
    Somewhere, Noah Webster and Samuel Johnson weep.
  • Chute, not shoot (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Lucifer ( 19222 )
    I guess that needs to be corrected....
    • I'm pretty sure he was making a joke.. how were you modded insightful? :P If I knew the people he was talking about the I possibly would have found it funny. And rather than his first respondent being on crack, I'm guessing he actually got the joke and was responding with some highly insightful comment >.>
    • Oops, you weren't replying to that other post. My apologies - the summary had already been corrected by the time I read your post :P
  • It will be used as an escape shoot on rocket launchpads, and will be the 3rd highest drop in the world.

    I think the word you're groping for there is 'chute'. ^_^
  • So, (Score:2, Funny)

    by iceZebra ( 1148629 )
    not only do they get to go to space, but free rollercoaster rides aswell.
  • by OglinTatas ( 710589 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @09:34AM (#20897839)
    Dying in a giant fireball? Yeah, I'd ride it too.
    • I would sincerely hope people who get launched into space wouldn't be skittish about going on a rollercoaster...

      Now my wife, on the other hand, would probably choose 'dying in a giant fireball' over riding a vertical rollercoaster...
    • "F***, there's a bomb in the ship!"
      *Fastens seatbelt for the chute*

      (Insert giant explosion in the background)
  • by Maximum Prophet ( 716608 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @09:38AM (#20897887)
    Has NASA ever had an accident where 4 minutes to escape is good enough? Most of the accidents that I've read about went "Boom" and was over, long before any escape system like this could work.
    • >long before any escape system like this could work.
      But they have to be seen to do *something*.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by khallow ( 566160 )
      The Apollo 1 fire would be a good example. If there was a cockpit fire and any of the crew got out, you'd want them out of the way and on the ground fast. That takes a lot less than 4 minutes.
      • How is it a good example? The crew was dead less than 30 seconds after the fire started. With the pressurized 100% O2 environment they were testing with on the pad, it was more of an explosion than a fire. They couldn't even get the capsule door open before the pressure inside pinned it closed.
        • by khallow ( 566160 )
          And if we designed future vehicles the same way, so that they couldn't be escaped in case of a fire in the vehicle, then you'd be right.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mdmoery ( 875902 )
      What scenario are they planning for? Shuttle has the escape wires because there is no other method of escape. (At most times during the mission, your only hope to survive a Shuttle flight is to land safely.) Orion will have a good, old-fashioned escape rocket to pull the whole capsule into the sky and parachute down. So you would use this roller-coaster to evacuate if the emergency is prior to the point where the access arm is retracted? I notice from the number of seats on the "coaster" that there are
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CodeBuster ( 516420 )
      Given the fact that the launch tower and associated facilities for Orion will be built / modified anyway for at a cost of billions of dollars why not spend a few extra million to provide yet another obvious escape route? Heck NASA could even license the naming rights and theming for rides at amusement parks to recoup some of the costs.

      The rocket concept is really a return to the right direction after the long lived and oversold space shuttle side mounted launch vehicle. The Russians have long had rocket
    • by khallow ( 566160 )
      Here's another example. Suppose you're working on the CEV when suddenly there's a hypergolic leak. Even if it doesn't burst in flame, these propellants are traditionally very toxic. So you have a dangerous situation either with flames or without. Hop in the escape coaster and get out of there.
  • by p3d0 ( 42270 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @09:39AM (#20897901)
    You can read more about it here [].
  • Charge tourists for rides when the launch pad isn't being used.
    • Yes!! I've long said NASA doesn't effectively utilize it's resources to get external funding. They didn't even respond when I proposed my awesome 'Space Shuttle Trip Lottery' program. :)
  • Here's Demon Drop (Score:3, Informative)

    by phorest ( 877315 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @09:41AM (#20897939) Journal
    Sounds like Taco has taken a ride or two...For those of you that don't know what that is here you go. []
    • >God: When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all.
      That's IT isn't it? Does that mean all techies are Gods? Yeah!
    • The thing to do when you were a kid riding the Demon Drop was to put pennies on your knees. During the initial acceleration you'll fall faster than gravity and the pennies will lift off of your knees. Then - during free fall they'll hover in front of your chest as you fall. It's a brief moment of weightlessness.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ogive17 ( 691899 )
        I've been to CP probably around 50 times in my life (my grandfather was a software engineer there back in the 80s).. and I never rode the Demon Drop until this summer. I'm not scared of roller coasters... the only reason to go to CP is to ride the best ones in the world. I was amazed at how much of a thrill that ride actually gives for as "small" as it looks compared to the new mega coasters.

        And if CmdrTaco happens to read this.. I think we need a /. day at the park.. If it doesn't sound nerdy enou
    • God: When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all.
      And when you do things wrong, as is unquestionably demonstrated by the suffering and injustice of the world, people will logically conclude that you either don't exist, or you're an evil asshole.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I read the headline as NASCAR building giant roller coaster for science for some reason, which would have been pretty fucking awesome too.
  • Whee! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cheebie ( 459397 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:10AM (#20898321)
    I was at Cape Canaveral this past spring, just as a tourist. (Missed
    Buzz Aldrin signing his book by half an hour, dernit!) We took the better
    tour that let you see more of the launch pads and the construction sites.

    Anyway, the escape system they have right now is a zip line. If something
    bad is about to happen, the astronauts grab onto the harness and slide down
    a metal cable. There's a sorta-fire-proof vehicle at the end of the zip line
    ready to haul ass at a moments notice. Their instructions were to get in the
    vehicle and take off. Fast. I assume praying would also be involved. The
    guide said that MIGHT be enough to keep them from becoming BBQ, but not blowing
    up the craft is still the best strategy.

    Getting blown into space on top of a barely controlled explosion is still a
    pretty dangerous profession. I admire those with the guts to do it.

    • Re:Whee! (Score:4, Informative)

      by cheebie ( 459397 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:12AM (#20898349)
      Correcting myself.

      I just remembered that they don't slide down individually. There's a
      basket they all get into, and THAT slides down the wire. Still sounds
      like a fun ride, as long as there aren't several tons of rocket fuel
      about to explode behind you.
    • by Loether ( 769074 )
      I saw an IMAX film about the shuttle once. The viewers got to "Ride" down the zip line. It was fun. It seems like a much cheaper way to get to the ground fast.
  • My physics class in high school went to Great Adventure. That, I suppose, helped advance science too.

    Diet Coke and Mentos experiments advance science as well.

    While we're at it, let's put random stuff in the microwave and see what happens. You know, for the advancement of science. Third star from the left and straight on til morning.
    • Third star from the left and straight on til morning.
      No you fool! It's the second star on the left! The third star is a trap!
  • The problem was that it was very difficult to get incapacitated people into the basket and down to the safety of the bunker. With the new egress system, healthy workers can just put the wounded in seats and let them ride down to safety.

    Well, that's not difficult at all! So, as long as you have "healthy workers," the problem is mitigated. There's no chance that they will all be incapacitated simultaneously. And all they have to do is pull the wounded to the escape seats, buckle them in, light up their last cigarette, then smash the big red button to begin the speedy 4 minute decent back to the bunker

    Are they serious? I believe the article's author did a poor job of construing some facts, but it still sounds like this thing is a d

  • But it takes 4 minutes to evacuate these people. Does any disaster involving space travel and rockets have a 4 minute window for people to escape? Normally if a life threatening disaster occurs, it's so fast the people involved don't even know what hit them.

    That said, it still looks like it'll be fun to train on.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cyclone96 ( 129449 )
      Does any disaster involving space travel and rockets have a 4 minute window for people to escape?

      In the accidents this system is designed to protect for, it can. This really is not to help out a crew that is strapped into a launch system during terminal count. In that case, the launch abort system is fired and the whole capsule is carried away rapidly. This is actually what happened during Soyuz T-10-1 when it caught fire (link here []).

      Where the pad escape system really comes in is those days and hours bef
  • by Jtheletter ( 686279 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:30AM (#20898577)
    Putting aside for the moment that the people this is intended for will only be using it in emergency situations, they are also the group of people least likely to appreciate such a "ride" even if it were in casual circumstances. These folks already ride a massive controlled explosion into orbit where they are weightless for a week or more at a time. Compared to that ride this "third highest drop in the world" probably sounds like a day off for their stomachs. ;)
  • I thought I read a while back that NASA was planning a low-friction rails system akin to Final Fantasy 8's Ragnarok launch []. Although I would guess the pitch of the climb would be a bit less dramatic.

    The idea of which of course is building energy instead of a massive short blast. You build up speed over a long distance, and slowly climb to virtical, where the rails end.

    You can have your flying car, I'll take the spaceship with giant claw hands [].

  • by hcdejong ( 561314 ) <hobbes AT xmsnet DOT nl> on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:40AM (#20898731)
    It looks like this track goes straight down along the launch tower, while the old system had wires going from the top of the tower at a shallow angle. It seems to me that the old solution gets you out of the blast radius quicker. It certainly stays farther away from the noisy end of the rocket.
    • Either way, you're relying on that tower to stay standing for at least the first part of your adventure down the track, might as well build up some speed before you hit the independent part. Zip lines can break a lot easier than metal rails (would make sense to me, anyway). I read the article and it doesn't say which system is faster, so I'm going with the roller coaster of actual terror.
      • Also if any part of a zip line breaks, the whole thing is useless. If the top of a structure breaks, the bottom still works, which could make a difference (though probably wouldn't, since any explosion would likely be from the bottom-up anyway).
    • by Leuf ( 918654 )
      We can only see a tiny bit of it so it's hard to draw any conclusions. But I imagine a straight vertical drop at the top would give you faster acceleration while keeping the cost down. You might stay closer to the rocket during the initial few seconds, but for the type of emergency this system is designed for that shouldn't make too much difference. If the fire is in the capsule then getting down is just as good as getting horizontally away, and if the fire is in the rocket itself you're dead before you
  • What they should design is a small engine-less glider that sits on top of a conventional rocket and in an emergency a small solid fuel rocket would propel it and the occupants to safety.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Animats ( 122034 )

      What they should design is a small engine-less glider that sits on top of a conventional rocket and in an emergency a small solid fuel rocket would propel it and the occupants to safety.

      Both Mercury and Apollo [] had that. In a pre-launch emergency, a solid fuel rocket on an escape tower atop the capsule would fire, explosive bolts would detach the capsule from the booster, and the astronauts would take a very short, high-G ride upward, away from the booster. Then more explosive bolts would detach the esc

    • I think a fully-enclosed water slide is the best solution. No time wasted strapping in, just jump down the hole and you're safe. Water provides some fire protection. Coat the inside with teflon so it'll work if the water supply fails.
      • by Ours ( 596171 )
        Be sure to wait for the guy who jumped in the slide before you to clear the slide while tons of rocket fuel burn. Or risk killing him by crashing into him at the end.
  • Waoouw. A 1-year old dupe [].
    So, if the 'new' story link is slashdotted, try this one from the 'old' news: [].
  • Now all they need to do is put some electromagnets on it and run it in reverse. Voila, a booster with 100% reusable parts :)
  • > More like the Cedar Point Demon Drop than a roller coaster, but still, I'd ride it.

    No doubt it would be highly exciting as the shuttle or rocket it was attached to is probably in the process of exploding.

    Lemme know how it goes.
  • queues (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    No matter where it is, no matter how exclusive the theme park: when those atronauts get to the 'coaster... there will be a queue.

  • Sounds like something from the Bill Nye (the Science Guy) show.

    (BTW, anyone know if that's available on DVD? My younger kids were just asking about it and the tapes I made off the air years ago are getting pretty worn.)
    • Did you try opening another window and actually looking? There are dozens of different DVDs for Bill Nye, some are special DVD-only shows too. ..I remember when Bill Nye used to be on Almost Live.
      • by AJWM ( 19027 )
        Did you try opening another window and actually looking?

        As a matter of fact, yes I did. There's some recent apparently made-for-DVD stuff (not cheap, either), as well as a bunch of old VHS stuff. Couldn't find the old half-hour "Bill Nye the Science Guy" PBS shows, though.
  • to be a test pilot for that there roller-coaster. You can even set my pants on fire with a Nano before sending me down.
  • Anyone tried it so far?.....

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