|Center:||Langley Research Center|
|Historic Eligibility:||Eligible for National Register|
|Important Tests:||Gemini, Apollo, Jet Shoes|
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NASA Langley's newest hangar, the Flight Research Laboratory, was constructed in 1951. The building also housed meteorological equipment, navigational maps, a library.
The 1960s were a time of preparation for space exploration. Kennedy's speech to land man on the moon challenged the country and our center to reach the moon by 1969. Although virtually every building at LaRC was involved with some aspect of the mission, the hangar was a major center of activity.
The original Mercury Seven astronauts selected for the space program were Virgil 'Gus' Grissom, Scott Carpenter, Donald 'Deke' Slayton, Gordon Cooper, Alan Shepherd, Walter Shirra, and John Glenn. NASA Langley Test Pilot-Astronaut Robert Champine trained with all seven.
The most widely known improvement, the Rendezvous Docking Simulator, became operational in June 1963. This was followed by the Static Rendezvous Simulator, which included an inflatable planetarium and static Gemini cockpit, in 1964; and the permanent 40-foot diameter Projection Planetarium in 1965.
[top] Old Timers
1974: Yankee with Jim Bowman, Jim Patton, and Tod Burk with Stall/Spin Program (Video)
[top] Additional Reading
The Smell of Kerosene: A Test Pilot's Odyssey. Donald L. Mallick with Peter W. Merlin. 2003. NASA SP-4108.
- The Air Lubricated Free Attitude Trainer: This trainer allowed astronauts to practice controlling the pitch, yaw, and roll of their space craft using windows displaying Earth, the moon, and celestial bodies as references.
- The Procedures Trainer, built by McDonnell, allowed the astronauts to practice controlling the attitude of the space craft (the pitch, roll, and yaw) while also experiencing space suit pressurization, noise, and heat.
- The Environmental Control Simulator was placed in a decompression chamber, and astronauts would practice using the module controls in pressurized situations that were similar to the conditions they would experience during their trip to space and back.
[top] For Students and Teachers
NASA Langley Research Center hosted most training for the Mercury Astronauts. Most engineers and scientists who worked on Project Mercury were Langley employees and were available to train and work with the astronauts prior to their flights. Simulator training took place in the large hanger on the Langley Campus. The trainers were suspended from the hanger's ceiling and astronauts sitting in the trainers would maneuver the modules, simulating their future space experiences. The seven Mercury astronauts took graduate space science courses, learning about reentry from space, astronomy, and how to navigate using stars. A large tank, the hydrodynamic tank, was used to practice exiting the capsule. Once techniques were perfected in the tank, the astronauts took the capsule into the river behind the Center for practice in the elements.