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Launch Simulation Testing


By: Melissa Kacena

In addition to participating in the Technical Interface Meeting at NASA Ames with my DOD colleagues, we had one other very important reason for traveling to sunny California…..conducting launch simulation testing.

As we have been developing our protocols for the spaceflight, NASA scientists raised concerns as to whether the surgical procedure could withstand the significant g-forces and vibration associated with launch. While our team, including orthopaedic surgeons, believed our surgery would withstand the launch conditions we needed to prove this to be the case.

In addition, we decided to test two sizes of defects in the femur (2 mm and 4 mm defect). We thought the smaller defect size may be more stable than the 4 mm defect. These questions and these possibilities led to the need to conduct launch simulation testing at NASA Ames.

NASA Ames has a vibration table and centrifuge that have been programmed to mimic the SpaceX launch conditions (in future blogs we will discuss these in more detail). We also used this opportunity to complete a “dry run” of what we will be doing at the Kennedy Space Center when we conduct our true spaceflight studies. Thus, to complete this “dry run,” I needed to fly out the whole team. There were 12 of us in total.

Future blogs will discuss more about the great learning experience my team had as well as the successes we achieved. Without completely spoiling things……we are still on track for our Journey to Space.


The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.

Carl Pinkham