The X-15 flight simulator, located at the NASA Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA, in the 1960s.
One of the major advances in aircraft development, pilot training, mission planning, and research flight activities in the 1950s and 1960s was the use of simulators. For the X-15, a computer was programmed with the flight characteristics of the aircraft. Before actually flying a mission, a research pilot could discover many potential problems with the aircraft or the mission while still on the ground by “flying” the simulator.
The problem could then be analyzed by engineers and a solution found. This did much to improve safety.
The X-15 simulator was very limited compared to those available in the 21st century. The video display was simple, while the computer was analog rather than digital (although it became hybrid in 1964 with the addition of a digital computer for the X-15A-2; this generated the nonlinear aerodynamic coefficients for the modified No. 2 aircraft). The nonlinear aerodynamic function generators used in the X-15 simulator had hundreds of fuses, amplifiers, and potentiometers without any surge protection. After the simulator was started on a Monday morning, it would be noon before it had warmed up and stabilized. The electronics for the X-15 simulator took up many large consoles.1961NASA Photo /› X-15 Project Description