No one wants to have to evacuate a burning spacecraft at the last minute before launch.
But if you had to do it, the zip line – or “Emergency Egress System” – designed to help astronauts evacuate the Boeing Starliner spacecraft in case of emergency would be the way you’d want to do it.
It’s a 1,340-foot line that’s able to carry up to 20 people to safety, all designed by zip line company Terra Nova, which also happen to have built the longest zip line in the world.
As a press release by the United Launch Alliance notes, the system can build up some serious speed:
“In just 30 seconds, the rider reaches top speeds of 40 mph. The riders control their speed by releasing pressure on the handles, with the ability to glide to a gentle stop at the landing zone. There are 30 feet of springs on each cable located in the landing area to gradually slow a rider down if they forget to brake.”
Though, as one of my colleagues points out, there is the potential risk of astronauts starting a fire just to have a chance to try the system out.