The light sticks are intended as an aid in case of an emergency, and are colored orange to identify the astronaut crew, while technicians in the close-out crew carry green ones.


I can understand the astronauts needing light sticks; for example, to locate them after a parachute bail-out at night. But what would be an example of a situation where the closeout crew would need light sticks?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Total power failure on the launch-pad at night? The close-out crew would become the get-the-astronauts-out-of-the-can crew. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 0:36
  • $\begingroup$ @RussellBorogove: That's reasonable. If an answer with sources fails to appear in the next day or two, you should write that up as an answer. $\endgroup$
    – DrSheldon
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 0:50
  • $\begingroup$ Can't think what else it would be. The sticks wouldn't help much in a fire where the cabin was filled with black smoke. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 1:02
  • $\begingroup$ @RussellBorogove: Would you please post that comment as answer? $\endgroup$
    – DrSheldon
    Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 3:52

1 Answer 1


Cannot reference any pad procedures or documents but in other environments have met Cyalume/glow sticks as a reasonable shelf life light source that will not explode a flammable atmosphere, short out in water, burn or shock users, suddenly fail if dropped and even survive fire for short periods (at least as well as a human).

So while imperfect in many ways they are easy for a risk management process to approve for inclusion since they will not make an on pad situation worse if activated, and do not need a checklist or similar prepared.

As a guess would place the primary purpose as something that got hooked onto a sleeve or shoulder to make it easy for close out+crew to keep track of each other during evacuation off the pad, even if smokey or full of water.

  • $\begingroup$ I tried finding references to "Phenyl oxalate" or other scientific names for it as well (as I'd assume they'd not refer to it as a "glow stick") to no avail. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 13:18
  • $\begingroup$ This answer has some good information, so I have upvoted it. However, I can't quite yet accept it, as the question asked for a scenario. If you edit the answer to add the power outage scenario and attribute that to RussellBorogove, then I will choose it as the accepted answer. Thanks. $\endgroup$
    – DrSheldon
    Commented Jul 13, 2019 at 0:18

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