Many manned spacecraft have had an "escape tower" to propel the crew capsule safely beyond the booster, if an abort is needed. What prevents the booster from simply continuing into the path of the crew capsule? Is there some form of lateral propulsion that moves the crew capsule out of the way of the booster?
Is there some form of lateral propulsion that moves the crew capsule out of the way of the booster?
The Saturn-Apollo LES, for instance, has a solid rocket mounted sideways at the tip, the “pitch control motor”.
In abort mode Ia, used for low altitude aborts when the booster is still flying nearly vertically, this fires briefly along with the main solid rocket motors to turn the LES/command module stack away from the booster’s path.
Once the launcher has tilted sufficently off the vertical, starting at around 3km altitude, other abort modes are used, that don’t use the pitch motor; gravity instead does the job of separating the booster trajectory from the LES trajectory.
The escape system is specifically designed to get away from the booster, and the key is to get away from it initially, and while still under thrust move to the side such that the booster will pass right by you. You can see this in the flight test of escape systems, some included below.