NASA is looking to swap their old M113 armored astronaut taxis for surplus Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) trucks that are retiring from combat duty. And no, they don’t need all that bombproofing just to look cool.

The space agency is hoping to get its Commercial Crew Program up and running by 2017 with the intention of “achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from the International Space Station and low-Earth orbit.” That means a lot more people could be going into space, and the formerly warfighting trucks would be designated as escape vehicles in the event of a launchpad disaster.

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Commercial Crew Program representative Steve Payne seemed happy with the MRAP’s performance. “it was a lot smoother... [and] a lot more comfortable inside than we expected,” he says in the video. He also explained purpose of their time-trials exercise to Engadget: “Knowing how long it takes to get a person from the pad to where it will be safe is critical in our risk reduction for the crew.”

The MRAP actually has a lot going for it in this application. Since it’s specifically designed to withstand explosive blasts, it should be pretty resilient to something like a launch blast. But unlike the treaded M113 vehicles NASA uses now, it’s relatively nimble, fast, and easy to drive.

If approved the MRAPs will be driving astronauts to the launchpad of the CST-100 space vehicle at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 at and the Kennedy Space Center.

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Hat tip to Engadget


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