Riding NASA’s moon landing simulator with chief Jim Bridenstine

VMS Lunar Lander Configuration

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Vertical Motion Simulator (VMS) Lunar Lander setup with Bonnie Andro-Avila, left standing seat and Sumedha Garud in best standing seat “flying” the Lunar Lander simulation

Dominic Hart

As the 50th anniversary of the historical Apollo moon landing techniques, NASA is preparing itself to go back to the lunar surface area.

The firm’s finest and brightest are difficult at work to provide on NASA’s enthusiastic strategies of returning to the moon — and developing a long-term existence there — by 2024.  The brand-new moon objectives, called Artemis, will integrate rockets, landers, rovers, and a brand-new spaceport station, the Lunar Gateway, in orbit around the moon to provide robotics, and ultimately human beings, back to the surface area for the very first time considering that 1972.

In May, we were welcomed to the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field in California to take part in and movie moon landing simulations with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

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We landed on the moon with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine


Bridenstine, an ex-Navy pilot who flew E-2 Hawkeye aircraft and F/A-18 Hornets, walked us through the landing procedures in NASA’s state-of-the-art Vertical Motion Simulator (VMS) housed at NASA Ames.

You can see his expert piloting skills and hear the administrator’s take on NASA’s return to the moon in our interview below:

The VMS is the world’s biggest movement flight simulator and lives in a 10-story tower on the NASA Ames school. It’s powered by an enormous hydraulic system that can imitate the motion of a genuine moon lander as it strikes its target on the defined landing location on the moon. The simulator’s taxi has 6 degrees-freedom of movement in any instructions, and as much as 60 feet of space vertically and 40 feet horizontally for replicating landings where the moon lander may be off course by some range.

VMS Lunar Lander Configuration

The outside of the Lunar Lander “Explore Moon to Mars” taxi

Dominic Hart

Our interview with Bridenstine was carried out in the VMS, with the NASA administrator playing captain to our simulated moon landing.  

Boarding the simulator was really challenging. First, we were equipped with safety belt and after that strolled down a long, retractable sidewalk where we boarded the VMS. I might picture what may be going through the astronauts’ minds as they boarded their spacecraft. We were then strapped into the VMS by the NASA Ames personnel in standing position at the control console. There was no seat so we were buckled into a cushioned vertical piece. As the simulation started, the movement was jolting, like a flight at Disneyland as the objective control computer system moved us into position.

Everything went dark — just like it would in area — and we might interact through pilot headsets inside the cabin. There was no other way of informing how high up we were at the start of the simulation due to the fact that all we might see out the windows was a computer system graphics simulation of the moon’s surface area. As we boiled down we might feel the simulator jolting as the “boosters” remedied our position over the landing zone on our computer-generated moon.

When Bridenstine lastly reduced us to the surface area and we “touched down” on the moon we felt a thud and after that the simulator ended up being strangely still. It was an awesome experience — one that simulated what the astronauts in future objectives will feel when they take their landers to the surface area of the moon.

Bridenstine showed to be an ace pilot, making 2 effective landings on the virtual moon and discussing his long-lasting vision for NASA’s Artemis objectives at the very same time. He discussed how NASA selected the name Artemis — which originates from the Greek goddess of the moon — and shared his ideas on the significance of putting not just the very first guy however likewise the very first lady on the moon.


Administrator Jim Bridenstine pilots the Vertical Motion Simulator at NASA Ames Research Center in California.

Stephen Beacham

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