Featuring: The M113
BLAIR: You know, Chris, I really appreciate the special inside look you’re giving me. I’m going to be a NASA insider just by proxy!
CHRIS: I have a treat for you today. Ken Miller, who is a battalion chief for Cape Canaveral Space Port, is going to give us an inside and outside look at all things M113.
BLAIR: Which is perfect, because I brought my driver’s license and I should be able to handle anything they throw at me.
CHRIS: Your driver’s license won’t be good here.
BLAIR: Is there a height requirement or something?
CHRIS: Let’s go check it out.
BLAIR: All right! Yes, we’re going to go check it out and maybe I’ll drive.
KEN MILLER: The M113 is used for the pad rescue team to extract flight crew members, close out crew members, or final instruction team members during a launch flow. We have four. We utilize all four during a launch.
BLAIR: Oh wow!
CHRIS: This is a pretty old vehicle, isn’t it?
KEN: Yes. It was first developed in the 1960’s with approximately 80,000 of them produced.
BLAIR: Wow. How long would it take me, if I were going through the course, to become proficient in driving something like this?
KEN: Less than fifteen minutes.
BLAIR: Hey, they left the keys. This is perfect. Perfect. We’ll get this thing started. Ah, dude! Oh, come on. Can’t… [sighs]
KEN: Typically we have eacb Flight crew that comes through a launch flow will get driver’s training on the M113. And then each crew member has an opportunity to drive it.
BLAIR: So, each astronaut has to be fully cleared to drive the vehicle?
KEN: Exactly. The pad team/rescue team will enter the M113 when we start at T minus nine minutes and counting during a launch. And we’ll have seven people in this hard top with full gear. And we are also on air.
CHRIS: With cool suits too?
KEN: No, they’re not cool suits. [laughing]
BLAIR: They might be cool in terms of fashion.
KEN: Fashionable is questionable.
CHRIS: They have plenty of liquids to drink to keep them hydrated?
KEN: We usually hydrate a day or two prior.
KEN: There are four different scenarios. They’re called modes. You have mode 1, mode 2, mode 3, and mode 4. Mode 1, mode 3 are flight crew members only. Mode 1 would be for self-egress of the flight crew, where they actually get out of the ship themselves.
BLAIR: And they travel down the baskets?
KEN: They self-egress by the direction of the NASA test director. They would exit the ship. Go to the slide wire basket, release the basket and go to the slide wire termination area. We have one of these positioned at the bunker, in case the NTD directs them to exit the pad area. They’ve been trained to drive the hard tops and they can egress the pad area.
CHRIS: Okay, wonderful. Is it usually the commander or the pilot that is in charge of driving this in case of an egress?
KEN: The commander will usually designate someone to do that. And, of course, they’ll be in communication with the NASA test director, also, to where they need to go, which direction they need to go.
BLAIR: He probably sits there and evaluates their scores when they were doing the testing. And if you did poorly, you’re not driving.
KEN: I think it’s more of a mental score.
KEN: I think he makes notes of the different proficiencies in the driving. I might say that all the flight crew members do extremely well.
CHRIS: Hey, you’re watching NE at the M113.
BLAIR: An inside and outside look at all things M113… whether or not you’re driver-qualified.
BLAIR: Let’s roll.
Page Editor: Blair Allen