|UND to unveil unique new space flight simulator|
The University of North Dakota-based North Dakota Space Grant Consortium and the Department of Space Studies will unveil a SpaceShip One-based space flight simulator, the second of two unique-to-UND training units, at 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 15, in the Spacecraft Simulator Facility, 162 Ryan Hall.
“This is a really terrific day for us,” said Pablo de Leon, an aerospace engineer from Argentina who is research associate in the Department of Space Studies, and principal investigator of the space flight simulator project.
“Now we are doubly unique in the country in being the only university having two fully operational space flight simulators available for students. Before, we had the only space flight training simulator. That one was based on the U.S. Apollo program space capsule,” said de Leon, who also leads the University’s path-finding ND-X space suit research, design, and building program. “This opportunity will pave the way for UND to have training for private spaceflight crews in the future.”
The simulator to be unveiled Wednesday is based on the design of SpaceShip One, which rocketed into history in 2004. It was the first private manned spacecraft to exceed an altitude of 328,000 feet and claimed that year’s $10 million X-Prize. De Leon, who designed Argentina’s internationally renowned Gauchito suborbital rocket, was invited to participate in an earlier X-Prize competition.
“I have followed the Burt Rutan-designed SpaceShip One story with considerable interest,” said President Robert O. Kelley. “And it is with great pride that I have followed the work of UND students and faculty in the design and manufacture of a flight simulator that can train pilots to fly in space using innovations in design of traditional, horizontal launch vehicles.”
“This is a creative application of existing and new technologies for flight simulation,” Kelley said. “It also represents considerable initiative in connecting university research and development with industrial manufacture of the final instrument.”
This UND space flight simulator was made possible by the generous cooperation of Cirrus Design Corp., which donated all of the materials, the work space, and much of the engineering know-how behind the project. The simulator, the first SpaceShip One-style horizontal space flight simulator based at a university, is also funded in part by the North Dakota Space Grant Consortium.