NASA Shows Off The Unfortunate Crash Test Dummies Who Ride in Test Vehicles

Sunday, 08 April 2018 - 3:49PM
Technology
NASA
Sunday, 08 April 2018 - 3:49PM
NASA Shows Off The Unfortunate Crash Test Dummies Who Ride in Test Vehicles
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YouTube/NASA Langley Research Center
Like most other companies who design fast-moving and heavy machines for people to ride inside, NASA utilizes crash test dummies during their tests to ensure that the eventual humans will survive the trip.

And these dummies are especially advanced - we won't go as far as calling them "smart dummies," but they have a fair amount of advanced hardware sitting inside them as they're dropped and thrown around in prototype planes and even spacecraft. A new video from NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia shows off the dummies used in vehicle tests like their work-in-progress Orion spacecraft.

You can see it below:



While dropping them, slamming them into walls, etc., researchers don't have to rely solely on examinations of the mangled dummies to see how real humans would react. The dummies have a whole network of sensors inside them, with a mass of wires in the back of their head alone, which can transmit data on whatever external force is impacting the dummy to NASA's computers. 

Other sensors on body parts like the dummy's neck can also relay information in real time about how much force said neck is taking. From this, it's easy to compute what's enough to seriously harm or kill a human being.

These dummies play a very important role in space exploration, because they're the ones who are taking the first rides in things like the aforementioned Orion craft designed for deep space exploration. Since 2016, researchers at Langley have been fixing up the Orion by dropping mockups of the craft filled with space-suited dummies, particularly in experiments involving the craft's re-entry to Earth and its landing procedure.

An example of those tests involved dropping a dummy-filled prototype into their 20-foot-deep (6-meter-deep) Hydro Impact Basin, to recreate a number of potential mission-ending scenarios. The dummies ranged from 105 to 220 pounds (48 to 100 kilograms) to simulate different body types of potential astronauts.



The Orion spacecraft will be launching aboard NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket once it's finally rocket. The SLS has faced major delays over the years as it continues to go over budget, but once it's finished, it's designed to carry humans back to the Moon, to Mars, or beyond.

So the least NASA can do in the meantime is use dummies to make sure those astronauts in Orion will survive the trip.
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