Good Vibrations! NASA Launch Simulation Tests Megarocket Experience

Orion Spacecraft Launch Simulation
In a first, several components of the Orion spacecraft project were combined for a vibrations test. Test subjects, modified advanced crew escape suits and the most current seat design for the crew impact attenuation system underwent simultaneous testing so the human factors engineers can begin understanding how the Space Launch System may affect astronaut performance. (Image credit: NASA/Rad Sinyak)

Launch conditions are never easy so engineers at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston have already begun simulations of the first crewed launch of the Orion spacecraft on the agency's new megarocket, the Space Launch System (SLS).

Inside a JSC lab this month, NASA's human factor engineers combined the many aspects of an Orion-SLS launch for the first time. During the tests, subjects wore modified versions of the advanced crew escape suits future Orion astronauts will wear, and sat in the latest seat design for the spacecraft in order to experience what a launch might be like. [Orion: NASA's Next Spaceship in Pictures]

"This was the first time this key hardware was brought together to evaluate how launch vibrations may impact the astronaut's ability to view the displays and controls," NASA officials wrote in an image description. "While Orion's late 2018 mission will be uncrewed, engineers are hard at work performing all the necessary evaluations to make sure the spacecraft is ready for crewed missions beginning as early as 2021."

The Space Launch System is NASA's new launch vehicle designed to launch crews of up to four astronauts on deep-space missions. The system offers more payload mass and volume in addition to an evolvable configuration for future deep-space missions.

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Christine Lunsford
Producer and Contributing Writer

Christine Lunsford joined the team in 2010 as a freelance producer and later became a contributing writer, covering astrophotography images, astronomy photos and amazing space galleries and more. During her more than 10 years with, oversaw the site's monthly skywatching updates and produced overnight features and stories on the latest space discoveries. She enjoys learning about subjects of all kinds.