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New attraction simulates shuttle launch at 17,500 mph

Flight-simulatorOn Friday, the Kennedy Space Center will open the Shuttle Launch Experience, an amusement-ride-cum-astronaut-flight-simulator designed to mimic the 17,500-mph (26,249 km/h) liftoff of a NASA shuttle orbiter.

The 44,000-square-foot attraction isn't just a ride; it's a flight simulator on par with what astronauts in training experience, says Bob Rogers, CEO of BRC Imagination Arts, which built it.

The $60 million project employs seat rumblers and shakers that rattle riders through the turbulent main engine start, the firing of the solid rocket boosters and then their separation.

Air bags in each seat sink and rise to capture the sensation of extreme acceleration. The shuttle's windshield, an 84-inch high-def screen, is enveloped in fire when the external tanks separate.

Inside the capsule, riders are subject to an onslaught of 13-channel sound, from the roar of the engines to the commander barking instructions. Low-frequency sound vibrates the riders' chests, evoking the feeling of being unable to breathe.

According to Rogers, some astronauts who have experienced the exhibit have reported it to be more realistic than some of NASA's and the military's own training simulators.

Link & Image: Wired
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