[ExI] Dawn launch (loading the xenon)

sti at pooq.com sti at pooq.com
Wed Jun 13 16:54:27 UTC 2007

Russell Wallace wrote:
> On 6/12/07, Amara Graps <amara at amara.com> wrote:
>> The crane was fixed last week to assemble the second stage of the rocket.
>> See pics below for loading the spacecraft with propellant (xenon)
>> http://mediaarchive.ksc.nasa.gov/search.cfm?cat=173
> Took a look at these just now - the technicians are in hazmat suits? I
> thought the purpose of using xenon instead of mercury was to avoid the need
> for such elaborate precautions?
IIRC Xenon is an odorless, colorless gas that acts as an anesthetic on the
human nervous system (although I've never yet read an explanation of HOW a
noble gas can do that). I think the suits are just a precaution due to some
accidental deaths from Xenon exposure many years ago where some folks
collapsed in a low-oxygen high-xenon environment. (All this is from memory, so
details may well differ.)

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