Image Cache: Building a safe spacecraft is in some ways like building a safe car: If you don’t want your astronauts to die, you need to test the vehicle thoroughly. And just like cars, that means using crash test dummies.
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In these photos you can see NASA engineers at Langley Research Center installing suited-up test dummies — the same type that are used in the car industry for impact tests — into the crew seats of an Orion test craft. The team then will carry out a series of impact tests to evaluate the Orion spacecraft and crew safety upon returning from deep-space missions and touching down on Earth’s surface. NASA explains:
The capsule, coupled with the heat shield from the spacecraft’s first flight, will be used for water-impact testing to simulate what astronauts would experience when landing in the Pacific Ocean during a real mission. Water-impact testing will help NASA evaluate how the spacecraft may behave when landing under its parachutes in different wind conditions and wave heights. […] Two test dummies — one representing a 48kg woman and the other a 100kg man to assess the impact on different-sized people — have been installed in the crew seats of the Orion mockup.
Photos by David C. Bowman/NASA