NASA Researchers Sled in Summer
9:15A.M., Wednesday, July 18
Imagine a huge metal sled zooming 230 miles an hour down a
Its not a new theme park thrill ride, but a test of tires
developed to stand up under the weight and stresses of the space
Engineers at NASAs Langley Research Center in Hampton are
using the fastest water-powered sled in the world to evaluate newly
redesigned tires aimed at increasing the shuttles load
capability by 20 percent.
Researchers at Langleys Aircraft Landing Dynamics Facility
are testing different tire structures and tread patterns to see if
manufacturers can make a shuttle tire that is more maneuverable,
less subject to wear and can handle more than 170,000 pounds of
Among the issues engineers will consider is how the various
designs perform on wet runways with different kinds of pavement.
The preferred landing site for shuttle orbiters, the Kennedy Space
Center at Cape Canaveral, Fla., has a grooved runway surface. The
primary alternate landing area at Edwards Air Force Base in
Edwards, Calif., has a smooth runway.
Come to the Aircraft Landing Dynamics Facility and see how the
tires react to the speed and heat. Feel the ground shake as the
sled completes its run. Talk to a NASA engineer about how important
these tests are to the safety of the space shuttle (and why you
should pay special attention to your own car tires).
Please arrive at the NASA Langley main gate at the end of
Commander Shepard Blvd. by 9 a.m. for the test.
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