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    In Case of Emergency, Astronauts Slide Down a Giant Zipline and Drive Away in a Tank

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    You’re sitting on the launch pad, strapped in, diapered, and ready to go to space. And then something goes wrong. Sounds unlikely, but alarms are going off, and Mission Control kindly advises you to get the fuck out of there now. Roger, you respond, calmly, then remind yourself that you are an astronaut. You’re not just going to escape – you’re going to escape in the coolest way possible.

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    Good luck surviving though. Some more specific instructions:

    1) Unplug everything and get the straps off you.

    2) Get to the sealed hatch and unseal and open it.

    3) Leave the shuttle and stand up on the gantry. Then cross the gantry, avoiding the elevator that brought you up.

    4) On the far side of the gantry is an open platform with slots in the floor below and a lot of cables slanting down and away from the whole shebang. These cables are called “Zip lines.”

    5) Suspended underneath these zip lines at floor level are wicker baskets. You will climb into these. (Tick, tock, tick, tock… time’s a wastin’.)

    6) Did I mention you will get into these wicker baskets backwards? You will. Then you will release the basket.

    7) Upon releasing the basket you will be propelled backwards and downwards at a very high velocity along the long slanting cable for some distance towards a massive pile of sandbags.

    8) Assuming everything’s been calibrated properly your basket will shoot through an opening in the sandbags and come to a stop next to the entrance to a highly armored and sealable bunker at the bottom.

    9) You will then haul your space-suited self out of the basket, open the door to the bunker and go inside. You will close the door leaving it to any of your more tardy fellow astronauts to open and enter the bunker if their “slide for life” has worked out.

    10) Once inside the bunker, which is still relatively close to the now about to explode Space Shuttle, you have to ask yourself one question, “Do I feel lucky?”

    11) If you do or do not feel lucky, you can either sit in the bunker and hope for the best, or decide to take Option B.

    12) Remember those armored personnel carriers above? They are Option B.

    13) Should you select to “move away from the vehicle” you, and any other fellow astronauts who have gotten this far, will go out the back door of the bunker and jump into one of two M113 Armored Personnel Vehicles (Vintage 1960s models, low milage). These are buttoned-up, fully-fueled, keys-in-the-ignition, and engine-running set ups. First astronaut in is the driver.

    14) Throw it into gear, pedal to the metal, and you are out of there at a top speed of around 40 miles an hour.

    And that’s all there is to it. What could possibly go wrong?

    And if something bad happens after you launch, you’re either going to land pronto or hope that your rocket comes with an ejection seat.

    [American Digest / NASA]

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