Curated by UCL

Zip Line to Safety: ULA Installs Launchpad Escape System for Astronauts

United Launch Alliance (ULA) has installed a 1,350-foot-long (410 meters) zip line on its Atlas V launchpad in Florida, but the company hopes the new system will never have to be used. Rather than joyrides, the zip line is intended to…

United Launch Alliance (ULA) has installed a 1,350-foot-long (410 meters) zip line on its Atlas V launchpad in Florida, but the company hopes the new system will never have to be used.

Rather than joyrides, the zip line is intended to give astronauts a superfast way to escape during a launchpad emergency. The system is similar to the slide-wire baskets NASA once used for space shuttle crews.

ULA, which will provide launch services for crews riding aboard Boeing CST-100 Starliner capsules, mulled over several different options, including tracks and a gondola, before settling on a zip-line system and a partner to build it. That partner, Terra-Nova, has designed and built some of the most challenging recreational zip lines around, including an 8,350-foot (2,545 m) ride over Copper Canyon in Chihuahua, Mexico, the world’s longest zip line. [Check out more photos ULA’s astronaut zip line]