Published: Friday, January 26, 2018 @ 8:53 AM
By: Barrie Barber - Staff Writer
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — A $34.4 million centrifuge that was set to be approved for operations late last year is now scheduled to reach that milestone in March, according to Wright-Patterson officials.
Billed as the world’s most advanced centrifuge, once it’s fully operational it will test the “G-tolerance” of hundreds of Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps pilots and aircrew every year.
The giant spinning machine with a simulated jet cockpit inside a capsule at the end of a 31-foot long arm will become the only human-rated centrifuge in the Department of Defense, a project official has said. It will take riders up to 9 gs, or nine times the force of gravity. It can subject equipment up to 20 gs for research testing. The Dayton Daily News was given an exclusive look at the project a year ago.
Scott Fleming, centrifuge program manager for the 711th Human Performance Wing, said in a recent interview researchers were reviewing technical details and checking off documentation requirements after government testing. Researchers had expected to reach that phase last month. The centrifuge is inside the Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine at Wright-Patterson.
“We’ve really been going through with a fine-tooth comb all that paperwork and making sure that before we sign on that dotted line that we’re getting” what was expected, he said.
The crew also needs time to train, he said.
Research subjects will be the first to ride the centrifuge, and pilots will be cleared later when it fits aviators’ training schedules, he said.
The project fell years behind schedule after a contractor could not make the original date to install the centrifuge, four new altitude research chambers, and a now commissioned Navy disorientation research device at Wright-Patterson, officials have said. The total price tag for the equipment was $92 million.
The 711th Human Performance Wing, formerly in San Antonio, Texas, and the Naval Aerospace Medical Research Center, formerly in Pensacola, Fla., relocated to Wright-Patterson after the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure process.