Inside NASA's rubber room

If a Saturn V rocket had ever exploded on the launchpad, it would have been a catastrophic event. NASA engineers once calculated that the resulting fireball would have been 1048 feet wide and would have hit temperatures as high as 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. In the hopes of not losing astronauts or launch crew to the inferno, NASA tricked out the Apollo launchpad with some safety systems that still exist today, including an underground, rubber-lined bunker that was accessible from the launch platform via a 200-foot twisty slide. (Which almost sounds like fun, until you consider the context.)

Amy Shira Teitel is one of the few people who have been inside the rubber room recently. In the video above, and she shares photos and stories about it in the video above, at her blog, and on

Video Link

Notable Replies

  1. I want to believe that there were at least a couple of times that astronauts or other NASA workers used the twisty slide just for fun. Yes, the context takes a little bit out of it, but, come on. Somebody had to test the thing.

  2. jheiss says:

    At least in her comments section someone links to an actually useful page with real pictures of the room.

  3. I too was annoyed by the lack of good pictures.

    So I googled it for some better ones.

    This site in particular has some absolutely drool-worthy pictures for the space-porn aficionado , including a link to a 360 degree panorama of the blast room.

    National Geographic has an article that has unfortunately dates itself quite badly by referring to Lost a few too many times.

    And a particularly cool site that includes some helpful illustrations in isometric and top-down views

  4. Typo in story?

    1048' fireball (boingboing) vs 1408' fireball (video)

    You shrank the fireball by 360 feet!

  5. I was just happy that NASA can calculate a fireball diameter to four places of accuracy. And still uses Imperial.

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