The lab simulates a suborbital space vehicle (eg. SpaceShip Two) and associated control center to perform take offs and landings from conventional runways and flights up to 350,000 feet.
The simulator comprises an aviation control and display hardware, a head-up display, modified X-Plane software, and compressed air for a pressure suit. The simulator’s baseline profile is a rocket-propelled suborbital air-launched ascent followed by a glide descent to the departure airfield for a horizontal landing. The system can be configured to simulate point-to-point flights. The simulator records 56 flight data parameters, such as an angle of attack and acceleration forces, that are available for analysis.
Potential research topics include astronaut spatial, temporal perception and attentional allocation, biometric analyses, energy-limited traffic avoidance maneuvers, in-flight emergencies, knowledge sharing, distributed supervisory control, fatigue effects on communications. Research also focuses on mission control operations and communications, pressure suit ergonomics, propellant management for contingencies and diversions, safety processes and procedures, suborbital flight energy management, and assessment of cognitive workload in operators under various task demands.