NASA Crash-Test Next Generation Capsule and Space Suits Using Dummies
The re-entry of spacecraft back to Earth is as important as the lift-off. A successful re-entry is crucial for the safety of the space crew that is why NASA is taking the crash test of their capsules very seriously.
The Orion spacecraft is designed to reach Mars, and its re-entry technique is now being scrutinized by NASA scientists to make sure that the crew can safely return home after their long-haul space missions.
The Orion spacecraft is one of the most advanced space capsule commissioned by NASA. They even call it the next generation of spacecraft. But like all other modules, it needs to undergo rigorous testing before its launch.
The splashdown is the most dangerous stage of re-entry and that is the reason why the engineers wanted to make sure that all they gears and calculations are correct. Gizmodo said in an article that they better get it right because one wrong step can mean life or death for a space crew aboard a re-entry capsule.
Last week, the Orion survived a crash-test into the sea. For the test, dummies were placed inside the capsule wearing their space suits. Scientists say that the most crucial part of the splashdown is the moment the capsule comes in contact with water. They say it can create the greatest impact to hit the human body.
Aside from keeping the spacecraft intact, the safety of the crew members inside the capsule is the main concern of the engineers. They need to make sure that the crews are safe from injuries upon splashdown.
"Not only can we learn how the structure reacts to a water impact in these tests, but we can also understand how splashdown loads are transmitted to the seats and crew," said Mark Baldwin, crew injury lead for Orion prime contractor of Lockheed Martin, in a statement.
To recreate the whole process, the dummies were geared with the modified Advance Crew Escape System suits which will be worn by actual astronauts during re-entry. To track the impact, the dummies were equipped with sensors to help engineers identify potential injuries.
The engineers were able to perform our vertical drop tests and were all successfully completed. But the agency said that more crash tests will be performed in the coming months to re-affirm the safety of the crew during re-entry and splashdown.