29

The shuttle stack broke up at ~73 seconds after launch of STS-51L. The Solid Rocket Boosters separated from the other elements and continued flying in a more or less stable manner (surprisingly). Air Force range safety personnel detonated the boosters at ~110 seconds after launch using the self-destruct system built into the boosters. (timeline reference) ...


9

Just put that question into google, ended up on the Range Safety System section of the SSSRB Wikipedia article, which contains this section: A range safety system (RSS) provides for destruction of a rocket or part of it with on-board explosives by remote command if the rocket is out of control, in order to limit the danger to people on the ground from ...


9

AFSS was developed for unmanned launches first. A 2004 NASA paper indicates how manned flight would be handled: Autonomous Flight Safety System (AFSS) is an independent flight safety system designed for small to medium sized expendable launch vehicles launching from or needing range safety protection while overlying relatively remote locations. AFSS ...


8

I haven't found a full list of range activities, but there's a key comment in this article: The Air Force currently requires several days to reconfigure its ranges between Atlas, Delta and Falcon missions. That turnaround time should be reduced with the introduction of auto-destruct mechanisms So in the old situation, every user had its own self-destruct ...


7

No, a computer will not be allowed to blow up astronauts. It may activate a launch abort system for them though, after which a flight termination system might be used depending on the situation.


3

The Range Safety Officer? Nowadays no, because Falcon 9 uses the Automated Flight Safety System (AFSS) (spaceflightinsider.com link) However, AFSS can destruct the Falcon during landing. In fact this is crucial for Falcon heavy. From the spaceflightinsider.com article linked above: Additionally, AFSS can support multiple objects in simultaneous flight, ...


3

The answer to both questions is yes. I was at a talk at NASA regarding AFSS, and the ultimate goal is to get everyone on board with the same thing, so that there's standardization across the board. This also includes between ranges. The idea is that right now, SpaceX is the only customer actively using AFSS, but Vulcan, Blue Origin, etc. are all ...


3

Basically, the short version of range safety is that there's a network of systems that all come together. Each system has a number of people that are required to physically be at the launch making decisions. So for example there's telemetry, radar, etc. AFSS cuts the number of people who have to physically be at the launch significantly down (so this ...


2

For the shuttle at least (which was not a "missile" though) the range safety system was armed only shortly before it was fired. When the shuttle range safety system was armed, a light illuminated in the crew cockpit. This was originally intended to tell the crew to eject. For the latter part of the program, the only Range Safety System left on ...


2

Honestly, it depends. First, it depends on whether or not the rocket has an automatic self destruct or whether this has to be triggered by someone on the ground, and then it depends on what goes wrong. The Ariane 5 explosion was triggered by sensors that indicated that the rocket boosters and the core had separated early, indicating that the rocket is ...


2

AFSS wasn't developed with the idea of making the launch tempo increase, rather it was developed with the intention of "allowing" the launch tempo to be able to increase. A lot of people tend to forget that during the Cold War, there were FAR more than 48 launches per year. I know someone who worked on each of the programs up to the shuttle program (...


2

Increasing cadence capabilities is only half the problem. Without demand, cadence won't increase. Demand is likely to lag behind capabilities by a number of years given the long lead times for large capital expenditure projects like satellites tend to be. The 45th Space Wing is expecting to increase cadence to 48 flights a year by 2020, aided by all launch ...


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