Military Review

Armored personnel carrier for space. M113 at NASA

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Armored personnel carrier for space. M113 at NASA
A pair of armored personnel carriers in the early years of service. One of the cars is equipped with a frontal shield. Photo Tanks-encyclopedia.com


Any launch of a space rocket involves certain risks for people and equipment, which is why appropriate measures must be taken. Already in the sixties, NASA created a set of systems designed to ensure the safety of people on the launch pad in case of emergency. Perhaps the most interesting element of this complex was the specially converted M113 armored personnel carriers.

Rescue means


Elaboration of rescue issues at the launch pad began in the early stages of the Mercury program. In the future, new means of salvation were created and improved, and during the Apollo program their final appearance was formed. With these or other changes, all the fixed assets of this complex have survived to the present day and remain in operation.


Rescuers watch the take-off of Space Shuttle. Eighties - APC repainted in white. Photo Tanks-encyclopedia.com

One of the tasks of the engineers was the evacuation of astronauts and personnel from the service tower. Rescue from the upper tiers was to be ensured by the zipline system - special baskets, moving along the cable, lowered people to the ground and took them to a distance of almost 800 m.On the ground, people had to hide in a protected bunker, from where they could be picked up by suitable transport.

The urgent problem of safe evacuation of people from the lower levels of the site was also relevant. Finally, fire brigades needed vehicles capable of protecting them from fire and flying debris.

Both questions found a common answer. NASA has decided to purchase several serial M113 armored personnel carriers. After some refinement and re-equipment, such a technique could find a place on the launch pad and contribute to the safety of launch participants.


Two thousandth years, the M113 is still used in preparation for launches. NASA Photos

Space armored personnel carrier


An order for new equipment appeared in the mid-sixties, and soon the Space Center. Kennedy received the four required armored vehicles. In terms of design, they did not differ from the serial army, but when leaving the factory they had a different set. In addition, NASA experts slightly modified the APC, taking into account the new role.

M113 for NASA from the very beginning did not have weapons and other equipment necessary for military equipment. As the operation continued, new units were installed on the equipment - or they were removed. Such modernization could affect all available APCs or some of them. Despite all the improvements, the general characteristics remained the same and corresponded to the tasks.

Almost immediately after commissioning, almost all M113 received additional protection against fire and heat. A vertical shield was mounted on the forehead of the case, covered with heat-resistant asbestos-based paste. Later, such devices were dismantled. Repeatedly changed the design of the commander's towers, providing surveillance of the terrain.


The crew of the mission STS-131 mastered ground equipment. NASA Photos

Over several decades of operation, the "space" M113 managed to change their color several times. Initially, they had a dark color with white marks, numbers, etc. - as a technique of the armed forces. In the seventies, armored personnel carriers repainted in white. At the same time on the front and side sheets of red paint caused the numbers of cars, from "1" to "4". In recent decades, APCs have been yellow-green in color and carried horizontal reflective stripes. The rooms stayed red, but became smaller.

Service Features


The use of new armored vehicles was regulated by the rules and instructions. According to them, both rescuers and astronauts should have been trained in driving. They should have been able to drive an APC and handle its main systems. For several decades, field trips to the M113 have been a mandatory part of the spacecraft crew training program.


Rescuers in their places. NASA Photos

Three armored personnel carriers participated in the launch; the fourth was reserve. Two cars stood out to the rescue team. Firefighters used fireproof suits and insulating breathing apparatus. In direct preparation for the launch, two armored personnel carriers advanced to positions 1,5 km from the launch pad. A few minutes before the launch, they were fully equipped, took places in the troop compartment and closed the hatches.

In the event of an accident, the rescue team had to go to the launch pad, search for the injured and evacuate them. This was given no more than 10 minutes - due to restrictions on the breathing apparatus of personnel.

The third armored personnel carrier was located near the doors of the bunker at a distance from the launch pad. He was completely ready for work and stood empty with the stern ramp open. In the event of an accident, this particular machine was to ensure the evacuation of astronauts from the danger zone.


A trip around the territory near the launch complex. NASA Photos

In the event of an emergency and a decision to evacuate, the astronauts had to leave the ship and begin the descent in baskets. Then they had to hide in a buried bunker. In the absence of interference, they could leave the shelter, take places in the APC and leave the accident zone. Such evacuation was carried out independently - one of the astronauts became the driver of the armored personnel carrier.

Over time, some features of the use of M113 in launch complexes changed. Positions were transferred, techniques improved, etc. At the same time, the basic principles remained unchanged. One armored personnel carrier was supposed to ensure the evacuation of astronauts, the other two - the work of rescuers and the removal of victims.

Decades of service


M113 entered service at NASA in the mid-sixties. The work of this technique began with the provision of launches under the Apollo program. In connection with the advent of armored personnel carriers, the astronaut training program was adjusted by adding courses on the management of such equipment. Of particular interest in this regard is the preparation of the latest missions as part of the lunar program. Astronauts had to study the control of a spaceship, a lunar rover and an Earth armored personnel carrier - a curious and unique combination.


Armored vehicle monument. NASA Photos

After completing the Apollo program, NASA began preparations for operating the Space Transportation System complex with the Shuttle shuttle. As part of this training, modernization of launch complexes in general and rescue systems in particular was carried out. At the same time, M113 armored personnel carriers remained an important part of security measures. As before, one of the armored vehicles was intended for use by astronauts, and the corresponding training remained in their training program.

During their service, the M113 was present at 15 launches of the Apollo series ships and at 135 Space Shuttle launches. The preparations for these launches were generally regular, and the launches themselves took place without accidents - the help of armored vehicles and its crews was not required. Nevertheless, two armored personnel carriers with rescuers, one empty car and one backup were ready at any moment to help astronauts in trouble.


M113 and its successor - armored car Caiman MRAP. NASA Photos

Modern replacement


The service of the four "space" armored personnel carriers lasted almost half a century. In 2013, it was decided to decommission this equipment due to obsolescence and resource development. For the M113, they found a modern replacement, and the machines themselves went into storage. One of them, bearing the number "1", soon became a monument.

For transportation of rescuers and astronauts, four wheeled armored vehicles BAE Caiman MRAP are now used. In terms of protection, they are similar to the old M113, but are more easy to manage and maintain. There is a spacious landing compartment, more convenient for rescuers with equipment or astronauts in spacesuits. In addition, new machines have a full resource, the development of which will take decades.


Cayman on the track. NASA Photos

However, the full operation of the "Cayman" with the solution of the assigned tasks has not yet begun. In 2011, even before receiving such equipment, NASA curtailed the STS program and stopped manned launches from its sites. As a result of this, the evacuation technique is so far used only for training personnel. In the near future, NASA plans to resume its manned program, so that the armored cars finally begin normal operation.

Fortunately, in recent decades, NASA has been able to carry out manned launches without an accident at the preparation or launch stage. As a result of this, the M113 armored personnel carriers repeatedly participated in the organization of launches, but they never started to carry out the assigned tasks. What will be the service armored Caiman - is unknown. Conclusions of this kind can only be made after launches of manned spacecraft resume in the USA.
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  1. tanki-tanki
    tanki-tanki 5 May 2020 18: 06 New
    +4
    Thanks for the interesting article.
  2. tanki-tanki
    tanki-tanki 5 May 2020 18: 20 New
    +1
    The idea is not bad, even very good. In an emergency, this technique does not hurt. At our cosmodromes, it would be possible to put several cars just in case. For this, light and maneuverable vehicles are needed, but armor is also needed.
    1. Thunderbolt
      Thunderbolt 5 May 2020 22: 53 New
      +3
      Quote: tanki-tanki
      At our cosmodromes, it would be possible to put several cars just in case. For this, light and maneuverable vehicles are needed, but armor is also needed.

      Each has its own separate fire department. And they are equipped with fire reconnaissance and rescue equipment, not only on the basis of armored personnel carriers, but also tanks. Including those controlled by radio.
      P.S. Do you recognize the girl in the background? "Nona-SVK" laughing
  3. sabakina
    sabakina 5 May 2020 18: 22 New
    +2
    If it breaks at the start, these armored personnel carriers will not be able to help. So they can forget about astronauts.
    1. tanki-tanki
      tanki-tanki 5 May 2020 18: 29 New
      +4
      This is if it explodes. Optionally, the rocket should explode. You never know what can happen. So it’s better to keep a few pieces.
      1. sabakina
        sabakina 5 May 2020 18: 36 New
        -3
        Who knows what? Wings to lose? Will the tail fall off? AI going crazy?
        1. tanki-tanki
          tanki-tanki 5 May 2020 18: 38 New
          +5
          Yes, even a fuel leak, a fire, whatever.
          1. sabakina
            sabakina 5 May 2020 18: 43 New
            -6
            To eliminate a fuel leak, armored vehicles with firefighters in a fireproof are not needed.
            In case of fire ... Only an urn for dust is required.
            Anything .... How will an APC help with a UFO attack?
            1. tanki-tanki
              tanki-tanki 5 May 2020 18: 47 New
              +4
              To eliminate a fuel leak, armored vehicles with firefighters in a fireproof are not needed.

              It is not necessary to eliminate a fuel leak, but is useful for evacuation. In addition, 4 cars will not hurt.
  4. Free wind
    Free wind 5 May 2020 18: 31 New
    +8
    These rescuers have a cool job, in case of an accident you still can’t do anything, but the service is the service, the money is dripping.
    1. sabakina
      sabakina 5 May 2020 18: 45 New
      +5
      I think there is not only money dripping, but also for three years. wink
  5. Kuz
    Kuz 5 May 2020 18: 32 New
    -1
    Regular workhorse
  6. Amateur
    Amateur 5 May 2020 18: 37 New
    0
    People in black-3 remembered. There are just evacuation problems. good
  7. knn54
    knn54 5 May 2020 18: 39 New
    +3
    "Cayman" has proven itself well in Iraq and Afghanistan. Withstands a decent shock wave, which is important in an emergency situation.
  8. Undecim
    Undecim 5 May 2020 19: 05 New
    +7
    Rescue from the upper tiers was to be ensured by the zipline system - special baskets, moving along the cable, lowered people to the ground and took them to a distance of almost 800 m.

    The Apollo 14 crew is mastering the emergency rescue system.
    1. Undecim
      Undecim 5 May 2020 19: 09 New
      +6

      For the Space shuttle program, the EES system was redesigned.
      1. Undecim
        Undecim 5 May 2020 19: 12 New
        +6

        Today, a system with individual seats is used.
        1. Proctologist
          Proctologist 5 May 2020 23: 02 New
          +2
          No, it looks like a "basket". Here's a video of SpaceX's latest emergency evacuation system - for its upcoming launch later this month. Baskets at 0:25, MRAP at 1:15.

          Both solutions are very attractive to me: zip-line, diagonally - it delivers people as simple, fast and far as possible, and wheeled MRAP moves much faster than a tracked armored personnel carrier and is better protected. Nobody destroyed the roads.

          https://youtu.be/tBFR0EWF-5M?t=19
  9. Pavel57
    Pavel57 5 May 2020 19: 06 New
    +1
    An interesting aspect of the application of M113.
  10. Saxahorse
    Saxahorse 5 May 2020 21: 06 New
    +1
    Curious article, thanks to the author!

    We have AT-T - they worked as Kharkovites in Antarctica, they have the M113 all-terrain vehicle rescue vehicle. There is good use from solid military equipment.

    True, the idea of ​​replacing a tracked armored personnel carrier with a wheeled MPAP looks doubtful. They probably won’t shoot at it at the cosmodrome, but with the cross-country ability and stability of this huge and tall rubber-wheeled vehicle, everything is much worse. At the burning cosmodrome, MRAP is clearly not what you need ..
    1. Proctologist
      Proctologist 5 May 2020 23: 05 New
      +2
      On the contrary, MRAP allows you to quickly exit the fire - which also has a finite propagation speed and, logically, there is nowhere to get the fire from before the rocket explodes, but astronauts must leave the rocket and be in the MRAP before the explosion. After the explosion, if they did not manage to board the spacecraft, they won’t get to the MRAP.
      1. Saxahorse
        Saxahorse 6 May 2020 01: 58 New
        +1
        Quote: Proctologist
        After the explosion, if they did not manage to board the spacecraft, they won’t get to the MRAP.

        In this case, there would be a Corvette or Pontiac laughing

        Of course, the presence of an armored vehicle implies a possible breakthrough through the sea of ​​fire and debris. Otherwise, no one would have steamed with a special evacuation vehicle. And the wheeled vehicle, in a pile of burning debris, gets stuck with an extremely high probability.
  11. bk0010
    bk0010 5 May 2020 21: 28 New
    0
    About the rescue system on the ropes: let's say a rocket caught fire, flames, explosions ... How do they make sure that these ropes do not fall to the ground - 800 m is a decent distance, you won’t instantly slip through.
  12. Pvi1206
    Pvi1206 5 May 2020 22: 09 New
    0
    There were catastrophes with mass deaths at our launch sites ... apparently no protection was provided at that time ... or our usual ... maybe ...
    1. Alexey RA
      Alexey RA 7 May 2020 16: 22 New
      +2
      Quote: Pvi1206
      There were catastrophes with mass deaths at our launch sites ... apparently no protection was provided at that time ... or our usual ... maybe ...

      If we take the most famous of the catastrophes - Nedelyn - then all the safety rules were violated there. It is enough that work on the control system was carried out with the rocket's power circuits powered up.
      Moreover, in addition to the specialists necessary for the work, a crowd of superiors with retinues gathered at the launch pad near the rocket - one and a half superiors for each employee.
  13. Alexey RA
    Alexey RA 7 May 2020 16: 14 New
    0
    For the transport of rescuers and astronauts, four wheeled armored vehicles BAE Caiman MRAP are now used. In terms of protection, they are similar to the old M113, but are more easy to manage and maintain.

    Not quite clear solution. Yes, MRAP is well protected - but its protection works mostly from the bottom up. What will happen to the MRAP with its high silhouette when the shockwave arrives from the side, and will it tip over?
    The second question is wheels. How long will rubber withstand during evacuation through a fire zone?