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Early Abort of Ares I Rocket Would Kill Crew 414

FleaPlus writes "From studying past solid rocket launch failures, the 45th Space Wing of the US Air Force has concluded that an early abort (up to a minute after launch) of NASA Marshall Flight Center's Ares I rocket would have a ~100% chance of killing all crew (report summary and link), even if the launch escape system were activated. This would be due to the capsule being surrounded until ground impact by a 3-mile-wide cloud of burning solid propellant fragments, which would melt the parachute. NASA management has stated that their computer models predict a safe outcome. The Air Force has also been hesitant to give launch range approval to the predecessor Ares I-X suborbital rocket, since its solid rocket vibrations are violent enough to disable both its steering and self-destruct module, endangering people on the ground."

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