Wright-Patt’s newest $34M test equipment set to train astronauts

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
Human centrifuge spins fighter pilots for body crushing G-force training at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base 711th Human Performance Wing

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The world’s most advanced centrifuge will be spinning NASA astronauts over the next two days at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Nine NASA astronauts and one Boeing astronaut will be at Wright-Patt for medical evaluations, fittings and centrifuge training as part of training related to NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, according to the base. The commercial crew program, along with the agency’s commercial partners, plans to launch astronauts to low-Earth orbit aboard Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft.

 

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The Starliner and Crew Dragon will re-establish an American launch capability for astronauts to reach the International Space Station and make more use of its unique research environment, according to NASA. The agency is planning to take four crew members to the space station at a time, increasing the resident crew on the orbiting laboratory to seven at a time instead of the current standard crew of six.

This will be the first time since the Apollo program that centrifuge training has been required for astronauts launching on a United States spacecraft, according to Wright-Patt.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Department of Defense and Air Force declare 20G centrifuge ready for pilot training at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The training is again being required because astronauts will return to using capsule aircraft to return to earth instead of “winged space shuttles.” The capsules include higher gravitational loads upon launching and landing, something the centrifuge will be able to replicate in training, according to Wright-Patt.

The $34.4-million centrifuge was dedicated during a ceremony in early August. The centrifuge —which was originally slated to be completed by September 2013 — faced around five years of delays, first reported by this news organization.

The Air Force is in the testing phase of a human-rated centrifuge for gravity training and research at the 711th Human Performance Wing on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. TY GREENLEES / STAFF FILE PHOTO
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The Air Force is in the testing phase of a human-rated centrifuge for gravity training and research at the 711th Human Performance Wing on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. TY GREENLEES / STAFF FILE PHOTO

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With an egg-shaped capsule on the end of a 31-foot long spinning arm, the giant centrifuge pushes Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps pilots to learn how to endure gravity forces up to nine times a human’s body weight.

It has the capacity to go from zero to 15 times the force of gravity in one second and can make 45 rotations per minute.

The Air Force is in the testing phase of a human rated centrifuge for gravity training and research at the 711th Human Performance Wing on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. At the base where g-force training and research has been conducted since the dawn of the jet age, this new centrifuge replaces several in the Department of Defense including one that is already mothballed in Building 33. Maintaining fighter pilot g-tolerance is a critical part of flight physiology for as the performance of the latest generation of fighter aircraft become more demanding of the pilots. Cockpit view of the new centrifuge. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Caption
The Air Force is in the testing phase of a human rated centrifuge for gravity training and research at the 711th Human Performance Wing on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. At the base where g-force training and research has been conducted since the dawn of the jet age, this new centrifuge replaces several in the Department of Defense including one that is already mothballed in Building 33. Maintaining fighter pilot g-tolerance is a critical part of flight physiology for as the performance of the latest generation of fighter aircraft become more demanding of the pilots. Cockpit view of the new centrifuge. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

The centrifuge, four new research altitude chambers and a recently commissioned Navy disorientation research device – all within walking distance — are part of a $92 million array of projects authorities say will designate Wright-Patterson as the hub for research in aerospace physiology.

The $34.4 centrifuge at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base will be dedicated on Aug. 2.
Caption
The $34.4 centrifuge at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base will be dedicated on Aug. 2.

All three projects were built at Wright-Patt to consolidate aeromedical research for the Air Force and Navy in one place. The consolidation followed the 2005 base closure process, which moved operations to the Ohio base from San Antonio, Texas and Pensacola, Fla.

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