NASA Just Added an Armored Military Vehicle to Its Fleet
Before you start grabbing water and canned goods and running to your basement, just take a breath and know this: We aren’t going to war with outer space. NASA is simply pumping up its emergency response capabilities at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Kennedy Space Center and, in the process, acquired a pair of armored military vehicles. Known as MRAPs – Mine Resistant Ambush Protected – these 45,000-pound vehicles will be used to safely protect and evacuate astronauts and ground personnel from launch pads in case of an emergency. The combat-proven trucks have been added in advance of upcoming manned space launches in 2017 and recently underwent testing to gauge their response time. According to NASA, they lapped the emergency routes faster than expected. In the past, Vietnam War-era M113 armored personal carriers have been employed to protect astronauts and crew during shuttle launches. The faster MRAPs will take over the reins on future missions. RELATED: This NASA Inspired Camping Trailer is Out of this World Cool
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"We were surprised it was faster than we'd calculated," Brian Pitchford, senior systems engineer for Special Aerospace Services, said. "It's not noisy at all. I mean, you can carry on fairly regular conversations inside.”
The surplus MRAPs, acquired from the Department of Defense, have both been modified and painted white. Though these bruisers can shuttle passengers out of harms way at around 45-50 mph, the MRAPs will also act as stationary bunkers. In the event that it’s too dangerous for the astronauts to drive away, the occupants can simply close the door of the MRAP and weather the emergency from inside its thick hull.
Of course, NASA wouldn’t be doing its job unless it found a way to improve the MRAP design. A rear ramp has been added so that astronauts can run straight into the rear instead of fumble on the ladder. Coming to a launch pad near you.
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