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PRESS RELEASE
June 25, 2002
Press Release: 02-74AR

Tower Simulator Provides New View for Shuttle Landings

A state-of-the-art simulator at NASA Ames Research Center evaluated the design of a new control tower that will make space shuttle landings safer and more efficient.

In a series of simulations at NASA Ames' FutureFlight Central in California's Silicon Valley, engineers from NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Florida, are modeling a world-class control tower for the Space Shuttle Landing Facility. Ground-breaking for the new tower is slated for mid-Fall 2002 with work to be finished in 2003.

"The purpose of this simulation was to evaluate several interior tower cab configurations as well as optimizing tower height before beginning expensive construction," said Ken Christensen, FutureFlight Central project manager.

During the simulation, KSC engineers checked and evaluated cab ergonomics and several prospective control tower heights under realistic visibility and weather conditions. The new tower design will allow greater visibility and safety during space shuttle landings and Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA) flight operations.

"To conduct a true assessment, it is important to be able to closely replicate the workplace - here lies the strength of this simulator," said Dr. Dawn Elliott, KSC principal investigator.

FutureFlight Central displayed very realistic, detailed and high-resolution day and night scenes, including the KSC skyline, runway and topography, thus providing a great resource for the simulation of the new tower. The simulation also evaluated the interior of the tower using human factors principles to finalize the most efficient layout. FutureFlight Central, the world's premier air traffic control tower simulator for airport operations and planning, includes a 360-degree high-fidelity visual simulation configurable to any airport in the world.

"FutureFlight Central is a unique NASA capability. It will optimize the working environment for our people and offer future safety training opportunities. Spaceport planners, using this tool, can evaluate future technology impacts, requirements and options well before decision time. We are fortunate to have this facility available to us as we start our new tower," said Ed Taff, NASA Shuttle Launch Facility operations manager.

The Shuttle Landing Facility, first opened for flights in 1976, was specially designed for landing NASA's space shuttle orbiters. Its paved runway is 15,000 feet long by 300 feet wide, exceeding the length of the longest paved runways in the United States.

More information about FutureFlight Central can be found at:

http://ffc.arc.nasa.gov

More information about the Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility can be found at:

http://www-pao.ksc.nasa.gov/kscpao/nasafact/landingfac.htm

Jonas Dino
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California
Phone: 650/604-5612 or 604-9000
E-mail: jdino@mail.arc.nasa.gov

Manny Virata
NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Phone: 321/867-7819
E-mail: manny.virata-1@ksc.nasa.gov
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