The former Marine helicopter's fuselage was painted in black polka dots as part of a high-speed photo technique.© David C. Bowman, NASA
WASHINGTON, August 28 (RIA Novosti) – NASA, which has been launching objects into space for decades, on Wednesday did things a little differently. It purposely crashed a 45-foot long (14-meter) helicopter fuselage from a height of about 30 feet (9 meters) to learn about safety.
NASA conducted the crash test at its Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia to help determine how to improve seat belts and seats, and how to design safer helicopters.
“We have instrumented a former Marine helicopter airframe with cameras and accelerometers,” said lead test engineer Martin Annett in a statement. “Almost 40 cameras inside and outside the helicopter will record how 13 crash test dummies react before, during and after impact.”
During the test, onboard computers recorded 350 channels of data as the helicopter was lifted by cables and then sent hurtling into a bed of soil, NASA said. The fuselage hit the ground at about 30 miles per hour (48 km/hour), which NASA said was a serious, but survivable crash.
The helicopter was also outfitted with a video game motion sensor to track the movements of the crash test dummies.
Technicians also painted the outside of one side of the fuselage with black polka dots over a white background to allow high-speed cameras filming at 500 images per second, to track each dot, so researchers could plot and see exactly how the fuselage buckled, bent, cracked or collapsed in the crash, NASA said.
The US Navy, Army and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also took part in Wednesday’s test.
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