SHUTTLE TO GO UP APRIL 24
Atlantis cockpit redesigned thanks to Langley
The Space Shuttle Atlantis is now
easier and safer to fly because of "glass cockpit"
technology pioneered at the NASA Langley Research Center in
A 12-image library of glass cockpit images is
available. The library includes thumbnail images, but it provides
direct links to large, publication-quality (i.e., 300 dpi) images.
Click HERE to take a
Next week's flight is the first for Atlantis since it
underwent more than 100 modifications and improvements, "making it
the most up-to-date Shuttle ever," according to Space Shuttle
Program Manager Ron Dittemore. Eleven full-color flat panel screens
have replaced dozens of outdated electromechanical cockpit dials,
instruments and gauges.
The Shuttle Program came to
Langley when NASA astronaut Fred Gregory learned Atlantis would be
the first orbiter to get a total technology makeover. He advised
managers to talk to NASA's aeronautics experts because of their
work on large, colorful computer displays for aircraft.
Gregory, originally from Langley
and now NASA Associate Administrator for Safety and Mission
Assurance, knew researchers in Hampton had developed the "glass
cockpit" concept in simulators and on demonstration flights in a
NASA 737 research aircraft. Following NASA's years of work,
aviation manufacturers started including the technology in
"We were happy that someone like
Fred had recognized what we had done and the benefit not only to
airplanes, but to spacecraft, so we were extremely proud," says
Langley's Sam Morello. Morello led much of the work in glass
cockpit development. "With electronic displays we can create a
better understanding of what's going on in the airplane. The space
shuttle has to take off and it has to land. On the return to Earth
shuttle pilots are flying it just like an airplane."
"Glass cockpit" technology allows
pilots to better understand and integrate vital aviation
information. Liquid crystal displays can show maps and obstacles,
such as terrain, and also provide easy-to-read, graphical status
updates of key flight indicators and systems. Shuttle officials
also say the new system reduces the high cost of maintaining
obsolete instruments, provides greater backup capability, weighs
less and uses less power than the original cockpit design.
During STS-101 Atlantis will dock
with the International Space Station and the seven member crew will
unload more than a ton of cargo. They will also perform several
maintenance tasks on board to keep the station in good condition as
its orbital assembly continues later this year. The crew also will
conduct one spacewalk to do work on the station's exterior.
Atlantis plans to spend almost six
days docked with the station before returning to Earth with a
landing planned at Kennedy Space Center May 4.
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Media note: Interviews,
photographs and video of the new shuttle cockpit and Langley's
contributions to its development are available.