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AN

EDUCATIONAL PUBLICATION OF THE

NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION

N F-36 / VOL .

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NO .8

Simulators

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What may be the fastest gun in the West is located at Ames Research Center, Mountain View, California . It is called a light gas gun because it employes the ignition of ordinary gunpowder to drive a piston down a tube which contains hydro- gen , a gas lighter than air. Heated by compression , the hydrogen drives a spacecraft model or another

kind of project ile into a test section at 20 ,000 miles per hour. At the same time , a mixture of hydrogen,

oxygen , and

rushes past the model at about 10,000 mph , pro- ducing a simulated speed of 30,000 mph. The gun is used to study spacecraft entry into the atmospheres of ea rth and other planets such as Mars and Jupiter. It is also employed to study the effects of micrometeoroids (microscopic particles of matter, larger than atoms, speeding through space) on spacecraft. The Ames light gas gun is one of many simula- tors by which NASA exhaustively tests on the ground all elements and situations that materials and man are expected to face in earth ' s atmosphere or in interplanetary space. To simulate has been

helium , started from the opposite end,

~~

defined as " to assume the appearance of , without reality." This is exactly what NASA simulators are designed to do. Using simulators, NASA finds out how proposed airplanes, spacecraft, launch vehicles, and their

on missions . Worthwhile

features are incorporated in the actual flight craft;

those that fail the tests are modified or discarded. Thus , time is saved and costs are held down in development of airplanes and spacecraft. NASA has developed simul ators in which pilots

will use during flight .

When astronauts practice in these simulators, they are made to feel that they are on actual space missions. As a result , when they head i nto space ,

they are already familiar with almost every detail of their mission and have had advance preparation for possible emergencies. In the not too distant future , thr ee American astronauts are scheduled to pi lot an Apollo space- craft into lunar orbit. Two will Iclnd a section of it called the Lunar Module (LM) on the moon. After

exploring, taking

components will function

perfect the techniques they

pictures, co ll ecting rock samp le s,

, Am es Rese arch Center, can fire a pro -

speed of 30,000

jectile at a simulated mph.

Fastest g un in the West.

li ght ga s g un

and performing other t asks, the landing party is to launch the LM to lunar orbit where they will re - join the parent Apollo spacecraft. Th en, they return t o the parent craft, cast the LM adrift , and rocket Apollo out of lunar orbit to earth. The mission calls for operations never before done by man . For example , the astronauts must use rocket power alone to land on the airless moon. They must guide their spacecraft through trackless space to the moon and back to earth , using the

star field

throug h an airless va cu um and their spacecraft will be subjected simultaneously to baking tempera -

tu res on one side and subzero cold on the other. NASA has simulators for training Apollo flight

cre ws at two of its facilities: Manned Spacecraft

F. Kennedy

Center, Houston , Tex as, and the John Space Center, Kennedy Space Center,

for navigation. They will be trav el ling

Florida .

The astronauts sit in a crew compartment with

th at duplicate the interior of the

instrument panels

Apollo command module. The command module is the astrona uts' living quarters during their flight to and from the moon. Surrounding the crew com-

partment is a battery of television and motion pic- t ure screens and planetarium projection equipment. These provide the views that the crew is expected to see during their mission-such views as the starfield , the growing moon (as the astronauts

approach it) , and the Lun ar Module,

to and separated from the craft. Realism is accentuated by sound effects such as reco rdings of the thunder of the great Saturn V engines at launch from earth and of the thumps heard when the Apollo thrusters fire to maintain

2

both connected

Rendezvous and Do c king ulator, Langley Research t e r.

Si m · Cen ·

Technician

stars and moon in navigation simulator at Ames Resea rch

Center.

of make·believe

using

sextant takes

sightings

orientation. The Apollo crew is familiarized with both operating and emergency procedures before

leaving the ground . Heart of thi s Apollo Mission Simulator is a unit consisting of three great computers. The simu- lator can duplicate almost every detail of the moon mission except weightlessness.

laid a sound base its many achieve-

NASA's Project Gemini , which for Apollo , demonstrated among

ments that astronauts can maneuver spacecraft to rendezvous (navigate to the vicinity of) and dock (link up) with another craft in space . Even before leaving the ground, Apollo astronauts-like the

_

\

\

_J

Huge rotor for centrifuge (motion generator) of the Space

Navigation Simulator at Ames Research Center. of men nearby.

Note size

Gemini astronauts before them-will practi ce rendezvous and docking time after time in si m u la- tors. One of these is the Space Vehic le Rendez vou s Docking Simulator at the Langley Research Cent er, Hampton, Virginia. The simulator duplicates the last two hundred feet of maneuvers leading to docking. Pilot manipulations of Lunar Modu le in- struments are converted into spacecraft motion.

requiring rapid corrective

action are sprung on the pilot.

in a 135·foot diameter circu lar room at

In addition , emergencies

Housed

Lunar

Landing

Research

Vehicle,

Fli ght

Research

Center.

rockets during flight path adjustments (mid-course maneuvers), and entry into the atmosphere of earth

planets . Such entry mph, or more than

twice that of entry from earth orbit . The simulator is primarily used for study of future manned mis- sions into space , not astronaut training. Severa l simulators help perfect techniques for land i ng safely , using only rocket power , on the airless moon. Original research for one such craft was conducted at the Flight Research Center, Edwa rds , California . This Lunar Landing Research Vehicle has a jet engine that is automatically regu-

moon and of 42 ,000

on

may

ret u rn be

at

f rom the a speed

l

lated and controlled to counter· balance five-sixths of the earth's gravity (the vehicle's weight) . This takes into account the gravitational force of the moon which is one-sixth that of earth . A IBO·pound man on ea rth, therefore , would weigh only 30

the Ames Research Center is a Space Nav igat ion

po unds

on t he moon . The Lunar Landing Research

Simulator, which duplicates every known fac tor of

Vehicle

uses hyd rogen peroxide gas jets to lower,

control and navigation during space fligh t. Th e facility contains two spacecraft models . One is a

ra ise, and balance itself in the same Lunar Modu le is expected to operate

manner as the as it descends

three-man model to conduct simulated lu nar and

to t he moon's

surface. An improved version of this

interplanetary missions. The other is a one-man

craft, looking l ike the Lunar Module , is 'called the

model for study of physiological and psycho lo gical

Lu nar Landing Training Vehicle.

factors of prolonged flight in space. The mode ls

Langley

Research

Center employs a saw·horse

are eq uipped with systems such as may be used on long-du ration fl ights; for exam p ie, Iife-su pp o rt (a i r ,

shaped Lunar Landing Research ca t e vehic le dy namics (how the

Facility to dupli - vehicle will act)

temperature control, food , et c.), na vi ga ti on, guid ·

duri ng t he cr it ica l last 20 0 feet of moon la nding .

!

!

l

it s

feature

motion generator-a carefu ll y con tr oll ed centrifu ge

that provides the acceleration an d deceleration forces associated with lift -off from earth, firing of

ance, and power. A

of

t he

faci l it y

is

Th e

300 f eet wid e at the base. A vehicle representing the Lun ar Mod ul e is suspended by cables that counte ract f ive-sixths of its weight. The pilot con·

3

0 feet high, 400 feet long , and

f ac i l ity

is

25

L u n a r

La nd i ng

Rese a rch

Fa c ility , Lan g l ey Res e arch

Center .

VTOL c ra ft used at Ames Res ea rch Cent er for study of lunar landin g .

landing speed by varying the thrust of

hydrogen peroxide rockets .

Ames Research Center is stu dying lunar landin g

by means of a VTOL (Vertical Take -Off and Landing)

aircraft . The ai rp lane neither looks nor is powered

l ike a sp ace ship , but applies power in the same way. The airplane's jet exha ust is directed down- ward to allow it to rise or descend vertically like t he Lunar Module . The tallest of the NASA simulators is the Saturn

V test stand at Marshall Space Flight Center,

Huntsville , Al abama. The 360-foot high sta nd is

t rois his

equipped to shake, bend, and vib rate Saturn V, the Apollo launch vehicle, duplic ating the stresses on

it as it lifts off through earth's turbulent atmos-

The great booster never leaves the stand .

It is filled with water r ather than rocket fuel. El ec-

phere.

4

trodynamic devices create the effects of the violent air pressures that are built up dur ing the booster's outbound flight from earth.

A Lunar Orbit and Landing Approach (LOLA)

simulator at Langley Research Center enables the pilot to practice flying from a height of 100 miles

to 200 feet above the moon. The pilot 's contro ls are linked to a computer that controls a battery of television cameras . These in turn are pointed at three-dimensional relief maps of the moon's sur- face . (The maps are made of molded fiberglass .)

Through

closed-circuit TV , the pilot gets the im -

pression that he is dropping toward or climbing away from the moon .

Wh en the astronauts leave their Lunar Module to

they will be repeating

many tasks they have done on the make-believe

walk and work on the moon ,

-------

J

moon

at the

Manned Spacecraft Center.

Selenol-

ogists (lunar geologists) have created here a small

piece of the moon complete with craters as much as 64 feet across and 16 feet deep. On this make- believe moon is a mock-up of the Lunar Module.

Clothed in their space suits, the astronauts climb

out of th e

Lunar Module and perform assigned

tasks. Not only does this give the astronauts needed practice but also it enables scientists to study their performance and capabi lities.

Th e X-I5 Research Airplane is a winged rocket- propelled craft th at has provided much informa-

tion of significance to ae ronautic and space

nologies and to science. It has been flown at more than 4200 miles per hour and to altitudes of more than 67 miles. Th e X-I5 is launched from a B- 52 aircraft about 45,000 feet above earth. The pow- ered part of its fligh t lasts about two minutes. The remainder is spent coasting to the peak of its trajectory and then in a long glide to earth. Landing speed is about 220 miles per hour. Before any flight, the X-I5 pilot rehearses his mission in a computer-driven ground model equip- ped with repl icas of the X-I5 instruments and

tech -

Engineer with equipment that

elim inates five-sixths of his

make-

believe moon surface at Man-

wei ght trudges on

ned Spacecraft Center.

controls. In this simulator, the pilot plans , checks, and analyzes each flight from launch to landing and develops and practices procedures for emer- gencies. The X-I5 program is managed by Flight Research Center. The best known of all simulators is the wind tunnel. In a wind tunnel, gases, such as air , are blown at different speeds at a model that is usually

tethered .

model is the same as if the model is speeding

through the

much to the advancement of aeronautic and space technologi es. Almost every aircraft, from propeller-driven models to supersonic jets , owes part of its develop-

ment to the wind tunnel. Models of future VjSTO L (Vertical and Sho rt Take-Off and landing) craft are being tested tod ay in wind tunnels . Various tests of helicopter equipment, such as the rotor , are refining existing th eory and contributi ng to improved designs. Research on rotors is helping to develop high-performance helicopters that can fly in any weather. Th e Un ited States tested in wind tunnels many

The effect of the air flowing past the

air. The wind tunnel ha s contribu t ed

Massive blades of a wind tunnel fan frame a scale model of a variable-sweep aircraft. The variable-sweep desig n, chosen

for subsonic fli g ht or be swept

for Amenca's supersonic air back for supersonic flight_

transport , permits the win gs to be straight out

(as shown)

designs for a supersonic commercial air transport before deciding on the most promising. This air- liner is designed to fly as fast as 2000 miles per hour, about three times the speed of today's com- mercial jet airliners. Wind tunnel tests have contributed to the Mer- cury , Gemini , and Apollo manned spaceflight pro- grams. As recently as 1966, wind tunnel tests of a scale model of the 365-foot-tall Apollo-Saturn V vehicle provided information which led to important -but minor-design modifications. The tests showed that the tall vehic le would sway as much as five feet in the normal ocean breeze at Cape Ken- nedy as it awa it s tanking . Among the effects of such movement are stresses on th e vehicle and tie-down mechanisms, interference with launch operations, and oscillation on lift-off. Engineers designed a system to curtail the swaying. In addition , NASA uses simula tors to study other phases of airp l ane flight. For examp l e, NASA has built an actual cockpit for a supersonic air liner at Lang ley Research Center . The controls in the cockpit are programmed by com put er s to duplicate

the handling qualities of the craft. In one program , the simulator at Langley is used to examine factors relating to traffic control for supersonic transports arriving at and departing from commercial airports. Launch vehicle stages and future unmanned satellites are also tested in a variety of simulators. Among other things, they are shaken , spun , baked , and frozen in tests that frequently are more severe than conditions they are expected to meet in space flight. In this way , faults can be discovered and eliminated before launch. Durin g its launch and flight through earth 's atmosphe re , a space vehicle is subjected to many forces , such as noise and it s associated pressures and the turbulent air pressures generated by the vehicle's own speed. These may cause the vehicle to vibrate at such levels that it is damaged or thrown off course.

problems that could be created are simu -

lated ill a Launch Phase Simulator at the Goddard

Space Flight Center , Greenbelt,

Maryland . Th e facil -

ity can simultaneously subject vehicles to variable levels of acceleration , vibration , noise, and vacuum

The

I

i

I

permits

studies of operations . The simulator is at Lan gley Research

Center.

Simulated

cockpit

for

supersonic

air

transport

occurring during launch from eart h into

space.

The simulator is an immense rotating structure

as 23

116 feet long.

It

ca n create

forc es as high

times the pull of earth's gravity. The simulator is housed underground in a huge covered pit to iso- late it from extraneous effects in the surrounding

to test the largest

availab le unmanned satellites such as the Orbiting Geophysical Observatory. When the satellite has passed the launch phase test, it goes to Goddard's Space Environmental Simulator. This huge chamber, 60 feet in height and 35 feet in diameter, can hold the biggest craft built for America ' s unmanned satellite programs. In the chamber , a spacecraft is not only subjected to the vacuum of space but also to the cold and darkness of space as well as the heat and other radiation which the sun pours on objects in space . The dark and cold of outer space originate from a temperature-controlled black inner wall . The solar radiation is created by 127 arrays made up of a high intensity Mercury Xenon lamp, an aluminized reflector, and four fused silica lenses that direct the radiation on to the tested spacecraft. The range of electromagnetic radiation (such as visible light and ultraviolet and infrared rays) produced by the 127 units closely matches that which the sun pours into

en vironm ent. It is big enough

Launch Phase Simulator, God ·

dard

Space

Flight Center.

Hi g h-intens ity

Xenon

mercu ry

lamps

and

a lumin ized

re

-

Hydroge n-fueled second stage of th e Atlas-Centaur launch

 

part

of the

artifici al sun

of

the

Space

Environ -

vehicle is lowe re d in the vacu um chamber of Lewis Re-

f lect ors, me ntal

Si mulat o r,

Goddard

Space

Fli g ht

Center .

Thre e

search Center for testing.

units (right) are turned on .

space outside of earth ' s atmosphere. Th e

artificial

provide s a me ans for study of space radiation and

sun is located

in

th e dome of the Space

Environ -

how man and mac hine can be protected agains t it.

mental Simulator. Special eq uipment is r equired for testing ad-

va nced rockets powered by nuclear or oth er highly vol at ile fuels and for checkin g nucl ear devic es de- signed to ge nerate sustained flows of electricity at

Lewi s Re-

sea r ch Center , Cleveland , Ohio, and its Plum Brook

Stati on, Sandusky, Ohio , are responsible for much

of thi s work. At Plum Brook, a is 100 feet in d iameter and 120

t he pressure and temper atu re conditions of space

vacuum t ank that feet high provides

hi gh levels for p rolong ed periods .

The

f or t esting compo nents and complete systems . The ta nk is inclosed by a six-foot-thick concrete shield.

at Plum Brook is a nuclear reactor which

Al so

A re actor creates radiation wh en it splits atoms .

The resulting protons , electrons , and oth er atomic

particl es, accelerated to high speeds, are simil ar

to particle s hurled into space by our sun and other

st ar s

All

NASA uses many more si mulators to br ing out er space down to ea rth . Th ese a r e sup p lemente d and t esting is re inforced by th e ext ensiv e sim ul at or fac iliti es of NASA con tr actors . The NASA -in dustry - university t ea m has fo und s i mulation to be a n im- portant contributor to reli ab ility of space veh icles , tr aining of astron auts , and th e ad vance of Amer - ica's ae ron aut ic and space programs.

and to th ose m akin g up the dangerous Van

en Radi ation Region.

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