Thursday, April 9, 2009

The mysterious "Rubber Rooms" under complex 39 launch pads.

Back in the Apollo days of the mighty Saturn V launches, a special room was built under the launch complex 39 pads. They called this the "rubber room", no it wasn't built to subdue or hide crazy astronauts from the public, but was actually a kind of bomb shelter. If the Saturn blew up, it would have gone off like a small atomic bomb (see my earlier post).
The plan was, if the rocket misbehaved before firing the engines, astronauts would quickly exit the spacecraft, run across the arm, take a speedy elevator down the tower, and dive down a hole to slide into the depths of the launch pad. Once they stop sliding they would get up and dive into a vault type room built on rubber pads. They strap into some seats and let the Saturn above blow itself into tiny bits. They could stay down in the hole for 24 hours while rescuers dug them out of the rubble.
Today, if the shuttle blows up on the pad (assuming there is time to run), the crew slides down baskets, dives into a bunker, then they get into tanks and drive quickly away.
These rooms are still under the pad, but locked shut. I guess they aren't forgotten, but still one of the less known trivia items about the space program.

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