Date: 4 Jul 84 14:59:06-PDT (Wed)
To: space @ Mit-Mc.arpa
From: decvax!linus!utzoo!henry @ Ucb-Vax.arpa
Subject: Re: destruct systems trivia question
For 10 points, name the one (major, modern) American (NASA) rocket
which did *not* have a self-destruct system, and explain why. I will
post the answer in a few days.
I know you've all been hanging on the edges of your seats, waiting to
hear the answer, so here it is.
The Apollo Lunar Module, despite being a two-stage rocket with several
tons of propellant on board, had no self-destruct system. While NASA
was concerned about safety in general for Apollo, they had a particular
horror of Lunar Module failures that might leave astronauts alive and
intact but stranded on the lunar surface, beyond all rescue. The LM
was made as simple and reliable as humanly possible. The usual range
safety policy definitely called for a self-destruct system, to disperse
the propellants safely in the event of a launch accident. But NASA
saw it as one more thing that could fail, and obviously could fail in
a rather disastrous way, so they absolutely refused to include it.
Henry Spencer @ U of Toronto Zoology