Space Center Houston Site Index
Saturn V CSM & SLA Gallery


The forward end of the launch escape tower.

The forward tip of the tower is the Q-ball, which was part of the emergency detection system. By analyzing changes in aerodynamic pressures (aerodynamic pressures are referred to as "Q" in flight equations; it is common during launches to hear references to "max Q"), it could determine if the rocket was beginning to tumble out of control.

Aft of that Q-ball are the canards, aerodynamic control surfaces which are deployed 11 seconds after an abort. The LES pulls the CM off of the launch vehicle on a ballistic path, with the escape tower forward. The canards are responsible for flipping the combined vehicle around so that the Command Module's heatshield is forward.

Aft of the canards is the tower jettison motor, used to jettison the escape tower and boost protective cover in a normal launch. The body of the tower jettison motor is the shorter cylinder bounded by the first two sets of boltheads; aft of that is the interstage (which mates the tower jettison motor with the main launch escape motor) and which has oval holes for the tower jettison motor nozzles.

Q-ball, canards, and tower jettison motor on Launch Escape System (LES) tower on Johnson Space Center (JSC) Saturn V at Space Center Houston
Time picture taken Sun Aug 3 14:10:34 2008
Location picture taken Saturn V Center
Rocket Park
Johnson Space Center
Houston, TX
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