Adventure park modernizes NASA simulator with Siemens control
The adventure park “Euro Space Center” in Transinne in Belgium is home to a number of dif ferent simulators, including the original NASA multiaxis chair dating back to the 1960s which was used to familiar ize astronauts with the sensation of disorientation. Today, visitors to the park have the chance to tread in the footsteps of the early space pioneers for a few moments. To make this pos sible, the chair has been automated using the latest technology, with a con trol system supplied by Siemens.
Every child has dreamt of following in the footsteps of Neil Armstrong or Buzz Aldrin and discovering space as an astronaut. It has now been made possible to at least experience some of the same sensations, if only for a short time, in the “Euro Space Center” in Transinne, Belgium. Using simula tors, visitors can experience the moon walk or find out what a disorientation exercise felt like on the multiaxis chair. This chair was used by NASA to prepare astronauts for life in space, and the original is now in operation in Transinne. The former manual control of the chair, which swivels around three axes using two aluminum rings, has now been replaced and automat ed using the Logo! 8 logic module from Siemens.
Always perfectly oriented
“Our employees always used to have to start the simulator, then regulate the speed, decelerate the chair and stop it using a simple hand wheel,” recalls Catherine Vuidar, Marketing Manager of the Euro Space Center. The use of Logo! 8 has not only improved equip ment handling for the operators, it has also increased the chair’s steerability, efficiency and safety. Placed in charge of upgrading the chairwas the compa ny Heinen, which did the calculating, testing and adjusting the settings for the new control program. “To improve the system’s safety, we mounted two sensors at precisely defined positions in the simulator,” said Head Develop ment Engineer Marc Radoux. The sen sors are connected to Logo! 8, and ensure optimum positioning of the chair both at the start of the cycle and, most importantly, when stopping. This pre vents errors such as the chair coming to a standstill with the visitor upside down.
Additional projects in the pipeline
The turning movement itself is powered by an induction motor with a maximum speed of 3,600 revolutions per minute (rpm) which is connected to a frequency control. The current pro gram offers three speed levels – slow, fast and very fast – with up to 30 revo lutions of the chair per minute. This is enough to challenge the stomach and equilibrium organ of any “test candi date”. The chair can be brought to a standstill at any time using an emer gency stop button, and the voltage and speed parameters can be viewed in real time at the control system’s dis play panel throughout the sequence. “The project has been so successful that we’ve actually developed a mobile multiaxis chair, and a third one is cur rently in progress,” concluded Radoux.