Fundamentals of Piloted Spacecraft Handling Qualities

Discipline: Guidance, Navigation, and Control

Handling qualities are those characteristics of a flight vehicle that govern the ease and precision with which a pilot can perform a flying task. NASA requirements for human-rated spacecraft include a capability for manual control of attitude and flight path, as well as satisfactory handling qualities during manual piloting. This seminar presents an introduction to handling qualities and covers highlights of some recent spacecraft handling qualities experiments conducted in the world's largest motion-travel flight simulator located at NASA Ames Research Center. The goal of these research studies was to initiate the development of a knowledge base to guide the design of flight control systems and cockpit displays for the next generation of piloted spacecraft. Six experiments were conducted over a time span of three years, covering a diverse set of piloting tasks: powered-descent lunar landing, docking with the International Space Station, and atmospheric entry of a capsule spacecraft. Four Apollo astronauts, 29 Space Shuttle astronauts, and five NASA test pilots participated in these experiments and provided evaluations of spacecraft handling qualities.

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