Copyright © 2004 by Randall Chambers.
Published by The Mars Society with permission.
HUMAN CENTRIFUGE SIMULATION OF MARS FLIGHT DYNAMICS
University, Wichita, KS
Safety Systems Company,
Using a computer controlled gondola at the end of a fifty-foot arm of a giant human centrifuge as a dynamic flight simulator in a manned flight to Mars mission, one flight volunteer was exposed for 24 hours to sustained reactive acceleration forces at 2 g, twice the sustained acceleration forces of Earth gravity. Subjected to the biodynamic force field of a 2 g 24 hour flight to Mars simulation, the volunteer, Dr. Carl C. Clark, endured the required acceleration loads, and demonstrated that he could maintain sufficient consciousness, visual awareness and comprehension, cognitive capabilities and life support, physiological and psychological functions, and flight control capabilities in the Mars flight acceleration profile. Although data analyses for possible physiological and biophysical effects and defects in response to this sustained acceleration stress on one volunteer subject, this human centrifuge simulation of Mars flight dynamics provided design criteria for improving g-protection and life support systems, flight quality and comfort, biomedical instrumentation, communications and flight control, and centrifuge flight simulation operations. Modifications in the double-gimbaled gondola of the human centrifuge included improvements in acceleration restraint and life support systems, centrifuge control and pilot control interfaces, bioengineering and performance instrumentation, biomedical and psychological monitoring, and in-flight data presentation and recording. Additional pilots, astronauts, and volunteers were tested in a wide variety of acceleration tolerance evaluations conducted in the double-gimbaled gondola of the human centrifuge. Restrained in the gondola’s cockpit at the end of the human centrifuge’s arm, flight test personnel were exposed to combined acceleration force fields as their physiological and pilot performance capabilities were measured along x, y, and z centrifugal force axes for associated tolerance time-lines at different acceleration force levels, including through: 2 g, 3 g, 5 g, 7 g, 8 g, 9 g, 14 g, and higher. For the 2 g 24 hour human centrifuge simulation, the of the technical hypothesis was that the human pilot may tolerate continuous acceleration forces of two times Earth gravity by accelerating half way to Mars at 2 g, and decelerating at 2 g the rest of the way, mainlining a total flight time interval of 24-34 hours, flying a continuous 2 g acceleration force approach profile to Mars.