MERCURY PROJECT SUMMARY (NASA SP-45)

 

10. ASTRONAUT TRAINING

 

By ROBERT B. VOAS, Ph. D., Asst. for Human Factors, Office of the Director, NASA Manned Spacecraft Center; HAROLD I. JOHNSON, Flight Crew Operations Division, NASA Manned Spacecraft Center; and RAYMOND ZEDEKAR, Flight Crew Operations Division, NASA Manned Spacecraft Center

 

Summary

 

[171] Any training program must be based on three factors: the requirements of the job, the characteristics of the trainees, and the training facilities available. Each factor is briefly discussed and its effect upon the nature of the training program is indicated. Selection of the Mercury astronauts begin in January 1959. They reported at the Manned Spacecraft Center in April of that year and took part in a group training program for the next 2 years. In April 1961, when the Mercury manned flight program began, a special preflight preparation program was conducted with each of the pilots and his backup designated for a flight. The remainder of the group took part in development and operational activities and did limited training to maintain the proficiency developed during the group training program.

 

The group training program consisted of five major areas: (1) basic astronautical science instruction, (2) systems training, (3) spacecraft control training, (4) environmental familiarization, and (5) egress and survival training. The specific preflight preparation programs involved: (1) integrating the pilot with the spacecraft, (2) specific systems training, (3) development and practice of the specific mission flight plan, (4) training with flight controllers, and (5) medical and physical preparation. All of the Mercury trainers and training facilities are briefly listed and discussed, and this section concludes with an evaluation of the training devices and of the various phases of the training program.

 

Overall, the Mercury training program appears to have been successful in providing experienced pilots with the detailed spacecraft operation and systems information and skills which were required for them to make the transition from airplanes to spacecraft. The program seems to have been well suited to the requirements of the Mercury Project and future programs will make use of the same basic techniques. In retrospect, some of the emphasis on environmental familiarization might have been reduced, and more complete simulation of the external view from the spacecraft should have been provided. However, the great majority of the trainers and training activities have been both beneficial and necessary to produce the level of readiness that was demonstrated in the flight program.

 

Introduction

 

The Mercury training program was the first opportunity to prepare individuals for space flight. In general, however, the techniques used were not basically new or unique to this project. Rather, standard training techniques and training equipment approaches which had been used for many years in aviation were adapted for preparing the astronauts for their flights. From the beginning, the role of the astronaut has been conceived as being active and highly similar to that of the test pilot who carries out the initial flights of new aircraft. While the Project Mercury drew heavily upon flight training methodology, there were certain specific requirements of this program which were significant in determining its basic form. It is perhaps worth keeping these requirements in mind in a review of the Mercury training procedures:

(1) The Mercury program was not a mass training program, only seven individuals were involved, and, therefore, it was possible to reduce the formality of the program and to use a number of shortcuts which would not have been [172] feasible in the larger aviation training programs.

(2) The participants in the training program were experienced individuals who were already well along in preparation for space flight. This not only greatly reduced the overall amount of training necessary, it was also possible to emphasize individual initiative and responsibility for their training status.

(3) The training program had to be flexible because the spacecraft which the astronaut was being trained to operate was under development and therefore was being modified according to mission requirements

(4) The training program had to be designed to help feed back into the developmental process. The astronauts were expected to aid the development engineers by participating in the design and review of many of the spacecraft systems, and the training activities were frequently combined with systems tests to evaluate both onboard and crew equipment.

(5) Unlike flight training, actual training in space was not feasible. There was a complete dependence upon ground simulator training until the astronaut flew the mission for which he had been preparing.

(6) The training had to be designed to tie in with the training and preparation of other operational groups such as the flight controllers.

(7) The significance of the program to our national prestige, the very great interest of the public, and the large cost resulted in an unusually strong emphasis upon a very high level of reliability, perfection, and precision in the man's performance.

 

Training-Program Characteristics

 

Any training program must be based on three major factors: the job requirements, the characteristics of the trainees, and the training facilities which are available. These factors are discussed in the following paragraphs.

 

Characteristics of Mercury Astronaut's Job

 

While the Mercury spacecraft was designed to complete a limited preprogramed mission on a completely automatic basis, from the very beginning manual controls were also provided. It was recognized that the man could provide increased systems reliability and give flexibility to the mission by allowing for a greater variety of maneuvers and scientific observations. The decision to provide for complete manual operation was highly significant for the crew training program because it meant that there would be a requirement for an individual who could skillfully mange the vehicle as well as merely tolerate the physical stresses of the flight.

 

The major tasks (refs. 1 and 2) which can be identified from an analysis of the Mercury vehicle and its mission, involve:

(1) Sequence monitoring - monitoring all of the critical phases of the space mission, such as lift-off, staging of the launch vehicle, the separation of the escape towel, the separation of the spacecraft from the launch vehicle, firing of the retrorockets, and deployment of the parachute.

(2) Systems management - operation of all of the onboard systems and the management of the critical consumable supplies to insure that any out- of-tolerance condition is recognized and corrected before an emergency situation develops.

(3) Attitude control maneuvering the vehicle to the proper relationship to the earth or orbital path whenever it is required during the mission.

(4) Navigation-being able to determine the spacecraft's position in orbit at any time and determining the critical retrofire time.

(5) Communications-operating the radio links to keep the ground control center in formed of his status.

(6) Research observations-carrying out the special activities related to research and the evaluation of spacecraft function under flight conditions. The difficulty of performing these tasks was increased by the presence of environmental conditions, such as high acceleration, reduced pressure, heat, noise, v iteration, and weightlessness.

 

In addition to these tasks involved in the actual operation of spacecraft, the Mercury astronauts were expected to contribute to a number of areas in the Mercury program. These included four main areas:

(1) Design of the Mercury spacecraft.

(2) Development of operational procedures.

(3) Development of inflight test equipment.

 

It was desired to carry out tests of the spacecraft function, of special advanced systems and components, and to do scientific research during [173] the space flight that required the astronauts' participation in the development of a number of specialized kinds of equipment.

(4) Contribution to public relations activities. The astronauts served as excellent spokesmen for the program and were an important aid in meeting the requirement set by Congress to keep the public informed on the space program.

 

Characteristics of Trainees

 

The job requirements discussed in the previous section required individuals with high skill levels, appropriate personality traits, and a high level of physical fitness. The requirements under each of these areas are summarized as follows:

(1) In the area of aptitude and ability factors, the individual needed:

(a) A good engineering knowledge

(b) A good knowledge of operational procedures typical of aircraft or missile systems

(c) General scientific knowledge and research skills.

(d) High intelligence.

(e) Psychomotor skills similar to those required to operate aircraft

(2) In the area of personality factors, the candidate had to demonstrate:

(a) Good stress tolerance

(b) A good ability to make decisions

(c) Ability to work with others

(d) Emotional maturity

(e) A strong motivation for the program

(3) The physical requirements included:

(a) Freedom from disease or disabilities

(b) A resistance to the physical stresses of space flight accelerations, reduced pressure, weightlessness, high temperatures, and so forth

(c) Medium size so that they could be adequately accommodated by the relatively small Mercury spacecraft.

 

Initial planning during the fall of 1958 resulted in the definition of five basic requirements for Mercury crew members: age, 39 or below; height, 5 feet 11 inches or below; graduate of a test pilot school; qualified to fly jet airplanes; with 1,500 hours of jet flying time; and a bachelor degree in science, engineering, or the equivalent. During the first weeks of January 1959, a selection board reviewed the records of 508 military test pilots and selected the 110 who met the above requirements. The 69 most highly qualified of these candidates were invited by the services to come to the Pentagon to receive a briefing on Project Mercury and to be interviewed by the NASA Space Task Group.

 

On the basis of these interviews, 32 were selected to proceed to the Lovelace Clinic for a week of detailed physiological examinations and then to the Wright Field Aeromedical Laboratory for a week of stress tests (refs. 3 to 6). Data from these two testing programs were summarized and reviewed at the Space Task Group during the first week of April 1959. In all, 18 men were found to be medically qualified without reservation and, of these, the seven most technically qualified were selected to enter training.

 

Training Facilities

 

Table 10-I summarizes all of the major training facilities used in the Mercury Astronaut Training Program. Included are training devices and other facilities used for significant areas of the training program. From the table, it can be seen that there were a large number of facilities used. This resulted from at least three factors.

 

(1) Since the program was a first effort of its kind, it seemed appropriate to try all facilities to get a better feel for the relative importance of various types of experiences to the training.

(2) It was generally impossible to simulate more shall one or two of the environmental conditions at any given facility. Therefore, it was necessary to use many different devices to obtain experience with all aspects of the environment.

(3) Most of the training devices had to be simple and rudimentary because the simulation techniques for space flight were in their infancy, and the training program was based on an accelerated schedule.

 

Table 10-I also lists the availability, date, approximate training time per astronaut, estimates of cost, lead time, and support time for each of the major training devices. The scheduling of some types of training activities had to be held up pending delivery or completion of this equipment. Also as can be seen from the source or location of each device in table 10-I these training facilities were spread out over

 


[
174-175] Table 10-I. Trainer Summary

Identifying letter from Figure 10-1.

Trainer

Primary purpose of trainer

Approximate date available

Approximate training time per astronaut, hr.

Approximate cost, dollars

Approximate lead time, months

Approximate support time, man-hours

Source

Assessment

Essential

Desirable

Early availability

Questionable value

a

Analog trainer no.1.

Attitude control

Apr. 1959

8

-

0

200

NASA Langley Research Center

x

x

b

Proficiency airplane flights

General performance proficiency

May 1959

460

-

0

60,000

U.S. Air Force and inhouse

x

c

Centrifuge simulations

Acceleration training; reentry control

Aug. 1959

48

500,000

4

15,000

U.S. Navy, Johnsville, Pa.

x

d

ALFA trainer

Attitude control

Oct. 1959

12

50,000

6

150

Inhouse

x

e

Analog trainer no.2.

Attitude control, pressure suit training

Oct. 1959

10

20,000

3

200

Inhouse

x

x

f

Navy slowly revolving room.

Disorientation familiarization

Oct. 1959

1

-

0

15

U.S. Navy, Pensacola, Fla.

x

g

Zero-g airplane flights

Zero-g familiarization

Dec. 1959

0.7

-

0

1,000

U.S. Air Force

x

h

Chapel Hill Planetarium

Star recognition training

Feb. 1960

28

-

0

600

University of North Carolina

x

i

MASTIF trainer

Disorientation familiarization

Feb. 1960

4

-

0

300

NASA Lewis Research Center

x

j

Egress trainer

Egress training

Feb. 1960

25

119,000

10

1,000

McDonnell Aircraft Corp.

x

k

Procedures trainer (2)

Systems management, attitude control, mission training

June 1960

101

4,000,000

12

100,000

McDonnell Aircraft Corp.

x

l

ECS trainer

Environmental control system management

Nov. 1960

3

228,000

12

1,000

McDonnell Aircraft Corp.

x

m

Attitude instrument display mockup

Characteristics of attitude instruments

Jan. 1961

10

5,000

4

50

Inhouse

x

n

Ground recognition trainer

Periscope training and terrain familiarization

Apr. 1961

1

2,000

3

5

Inhouse

x

o

Yaw recognition trainer

Out-the-window yaw angle recognition

Sept. 1962

2

1,000

1

30

Inhouse

x

p

Virtual image celestial display

Attitude control at night; star recognition training

May 1963

2

-

12

75

Farrand Optical Co.

x


 

[176] the country. This resulted in a large amount of travel for the astronauts. As a result, their time was used somewhat less efficiently than if all the training facilities had been available from the beginning of the program at MSC. Most of these facilities are pictures in figures 10-1 (a) to 10-1 (p).

 

Training Chronology

 

Figure 10-2 presents a chronology of the Mercury training program. The astronaut selection program occupied the period from January to April 1959. The group training program ran for approximately 2 years, to April 1961. After April 1961, the manned flight program began. Prior to each flight, a preflight preparation program was conducted for the pilot and his backup. The length of this

 


Figure 10-1. Photographs of various training facilities.

photo of piot in simulator

photo of centrifuge from below

(a) Langley analog computer simulator.

(c) centrifuge acceleration facility.

pilots in flight gear in front of  jet

photo of Alpha trainer

(b) Aircraft used for proficiency flights.

(d) ALFA trainer.


[177] Figure 10-1. Photographs of various training facilities (continued)

pilot in flight simulator

3 pilots in 0 gravity training

(e) Analog computer trainer no.2.

(g) Zero-g airplane flights.

man undergoing astronaut training

photo of planetarium projector

(f) Slowly revolving room.

(h) Chapell Hill planetarium.


[178] Figure 10-1. Photographs of various training facilities. (continued)

photo of MASTIF

photo of flight console and capsule

(i) MASTIF trainer.

(k) Procedures trainer

photo of pilot atop capsul in a pool

astronauts in ECS trainer

(j) Egress trainer

(l) ECS trainer


[179] Figure 10-1. Photographs of various training facilities. (continued)

instruments enclosed in a glass bubble

astronaut training equipment

(m) Attitude instrument display mockup.

astronaut training apparatus

(n) Ground-features recognition trainer.

man on a scaffold over a pool

(o) Yaw recognition trainer.

(p) Virtual image celestial display.



[
180] Figure 10-2.- Chronology of Mercury training program.

 

program depended upon the time available between flights and on the nature of' the flight. In general, the backup pilot on one flight was selected as primary pilot for the next mission.

 

In this way, the actual preflight preparation of' each pilot encompassed close to 6 months- the first half as a backup and the second half as the primary pilot.

 

The pilots' contribution to the development activities in the Mercury program began soon after they reported to the NASA and had had sufficient indoctrination on the Mercury spacecraft systems. 'The astronauts participated in planning for the programs to follow Mercury which began in 1961 and became greatly accelerated in 1962.

 

Each man was assigned to a Mercury Network Station as voice communicator. Service in this capacity normally involved a minimum of 3, or more, weeks. This activity in connection with Mercury operations began with the manned Redstone flights in 1961 and became greatly amplified with the manned orbital flights in 1962 and 1963. After the termination of the group training program, they had to devote time to maintaining their proficiency, in addition to these operational requirements.

 

Group Training Program

 

The group training program consisted of five major areas which are described in the following paragraphs. Portions of this program have previously been described by Astronaut Slayton in ref. 7 and others (ref. 6 and 8).

 

Basic Science Program

 

An initial phase of the Mercury astronaut training program consisted of brief but comprehensive courses in the astronautical sciences. The astronauts had had considerable training in the aeronautical sciences, but most had not had an opportunity to acquire the basic knowledge in such subjects as rocket propulsion and space mechanics which were required in the Mercury flight program Training in the space sciences enabled the astronauts to function better as observers of inflight phenomena and provided a basis for better understanding of the technical aspects of the Mercury spacecraft and vehicle systems. The series of courses listed in table 10-II was conducted with the cooperation of the NASA Langley Research Center. Time did not permit a more extensive program although it would have been desirable.

 


[
181] Table 10-II. Lectures on Space Science.

Subject

Hours

1. Elementary Mechanics and Aerodynamics

10

2. Principles of Guidance and Control

4

3. Navigation in Space

6

4. Elements of Communication

2

5. Space Physics

12

6. Basic Physiology

8

 

Systems Training

 

A large portion of the training program was devoted to familiarizing the astronauts with the Mercury systems. This knowledge was not only basic to all of their training activities but was the essential basis of their contribution to the development program. The primary requirements of this training were: to develop a basic understanding of the nature and characteristics of each system to build on this understanding a knowledge of the system operation and function; and, finally, to develop, in the Mercury procedures trainers and the spacecraft, skill in managing the onboard systems.

 

Systems briefings. The systems training began with a series of briefings given by specialists within the Space Task Group. The first set of lectures covered the Mercury systems and was followed by another group of lectures covering operational areas. These lectures were followed by a series of somewhat more detailed systems briefings by contractor personnel at the various contractor facilities. Periodically, throughout the 2 years of the group training program, systems lectures were repeated.

 

Contractor visits. The astronauts visited contractor plants and other NASA centers in order to get a firsthand view of the developing hardware and of the operational facilities.

 

Manuals. Documentation of the Mercury systems was a particularly difficult problem because the spacecraft was under development. The first set of systems lectures were used as the basis for the Mercury Familiarization Manual (ref 9). This manual became the basic systems document used by the astronaut.

 

A second manual, which was developed later in the program and which emphasized the operational aspects of the systems management problem, was the Capsule (Spacecraft) Flight Operations Manual (ref. 10). This document was printed in a size small enough to be carried in the pocket of the flight jacket with the intention that it could be carried along on flights, if desired. In actual practice, it was not carried With the flight but was used during some trainer runs. A third publication used extensively in training was the Flight Controller's Handbook, which was developed within the Manned Spacecraft Center (see paper 15) and which provided a number of useful diagrams for analyzing system malfunctions.

 

Specialty Assignments. To insure that the astronauts had available to them the most up-to-date information possible, they participated in the engineering reviews and other meetings on the spacecraft systems. Since no one man could cover all of these meetings, each astronaut was assigned to a specialty area (ref. 7). Each man attended meetings in his area and reported back to the group.

 

Mercury Procedures Trainers. The bulk of the operational training in the Mercury systems was achieved on the Mercury Procedures Trainers (MPT). The name "procedures trainers" is actually a misnomer since these devices could better be classified as flight simulators. Initially, a very simple open-loop device had been considered for training in the basic launch procedures. This was to be supplemented later by a complete flight trainer. However, the time available for development and delivery of these training devices was so short that it was decided to combine the two into a single trainer. In this trainer, it was possible to simulate the operation of all of the Mercury systems and induce approximately 275 separate system failures (ref. 11). Provisions were made to pressurize the pressure suits. However with the exception of the indicator readings, the actual environmental conditions in the cabin were not provided. Two of these units were procured in order to have one available at the launch site to be used in prelaunch training, while the other was used at the main training base at Langley Field, Va. These two procedures trainers differed slightly in their provisions for animating attitude control system, as is described later, but they were essentially identical in their capability to simulate the operation of onboard systems.

 

[182] Initial training began by reviewing each system separately in the trainer. The normal operation of each system and all of the failures which could be simulated were demonstrated during this initial period. Following this, a series of both Redstone and Atlas simulated flights were made for each student, during which simulated emergencies were kept to a minimum in order to allow the astronauts to become familiar with the timing of the normal missions. Once they were generally familial with the timing of the missions and the normal indications, the numbers and types of malfunctions were increased. By the end of the group training period, all the astronauts had made a large number of Atlas and Redstone runs and had had an opportunity to experience most of the major emergencies.

 

Environmental Control Systems Trainer. Additional training in the operation of the environmental control system was provided by the environmental control systems trainer which was a heavy shell mock-up with a prototype spacecraft environmental system. The device used was delivered to NASA in November 1960 and installed in a man-rated vacuum chamber at the U.S. Naval Air Crew Equipment Laboratory in Philadelphia (fig. 10-1(1) ). During December of 1960 and January of 1961, the astronauts participated in a program of system familiarization that included being exposed to a simulated reentry heat pulse and approximately 2 hours of the expected postlanding temperature. During these runs, the astronauts wore the pressure suits and became familiar with function of the suits when associated with the environmental control system. However, since a provision had been made for simulating the suit function in the procedures trainer, this type of training was not considered essential This was particularly true since the astronauts received further first-hand familiarization to the environmental control system by participating in the preflight checkout of the spacecraft environmental control system at the launch site.

 

Attitude Control Training

 

A number of fixed and moving based simulators had to be employed because no single trainer was capable of simulating all of the tasks on all of the control systems under all environmental conditions ( ref. 12) . The function of each of the principal control attitude trainers is summarized in table 10-III. This table lists the attitude control trainers and the spacecraft control systems which could be simulated, the reference systems which were available to the pilots tasks which could be practiced, environmental conditions simulated, and finally whether or not attitude tasks could be practiced in conjunction with other flight activities. Each of these trainers is briefly described in the following paragraphs.


[183] Table 10-III. Attitude Control Trainer Summary.

Referenced to figure 10-1.

Trainer

Control systems a

Reference systems

Types of tasks

Environmental conditions

Use while performing other tasks

MP

FBW

RC

Mixed

Instruments

Window

Periscope

Mixed

Orbit attitude control

Retrofire

Reentry rate damping

Recovery from tumbling maneuvers

Linear acceleration

Angular acceleration

Pressure suit

a

Analog trainer no.1.

x

x

x

x

x

x

e

Analog trainer no.2.

x

x

x

x

x

x

k

Procedures trainer no.1.

x

x

x

x

x

b

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

k

Procedures trainer no.2.

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

c

o

Yaw recognition trainer

x

m

Attitude Instrument display mockup

x

x

x

h

Ground recognition trainer

x

d

ALFA

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

i

MASTIF

x

x

x

x

c

Centrifuge

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

a MP - Manual proportional; FBW - Fly-by-wire; RC - Rate command
b Added to MPT no.2 late in training program.
c Virtual image celestial display added to MPT no.2 just prior to last flight.
 

[184] Analog trainer. The analog computer trainer provided the first simulation of the astronaut's manual flight-control task in Project Mercury. The simulator (fig. 10 -1(a)) was set up by Langley Research Center personnel at the inception of Project Mercury and was used heavily during the first half of 1909, both for engineering feasibility tests and for introducing the Mercury flight control tasks to the astronauts.

 

Analog trainer no.2. The trainer was activated in the latter half of 1959. The simulator (fig. 10-1 (e) ) utilized a special-purpose a-c analog computer obtained from an obsolete F-100 gunnery trainer. Realism was enhanced by the use of an early type molded styrofoam couch and a prototype Mercury three-axis controller supplied by the contractor. Aside from providing the astronaut with his first opportunity to practice attitude control in the pressurized suit, this trainer was used to perform a number of engineering feasibility studies.

 

Mercury Procedures Trainers. The Mercury procedures trainer no. 1, housed in the NASA Full-Scale Tunnel at Langley Air Force Base, Va., and trainer no. 2, housed in the Mercury Control Center (fig. 10-1(k) ) at Cape Canaveral, Fla., were the most valuable flight-crew trainers used in the Mercury Project.

 

The decision to provide two trainers was found to be sound since, in addition to the astronauts' requirements, there were requirements to use both Mercury Procedures Trainers in conjunction with simulations in the flight controller training program. Trainer No. 1 was used in conjunction with the remote site simulator at Langley Air Force Base, Va.; and trainer no. 2, with the Control Center Mission Training Complex at the launch site. (See paper 15.)

 

Both trainers were delivered without analog computers for animating the rate-and-attitude flight, instruments. Therefore. procedures trainer no. 1 was connected to the same computer used in the analog trainer no. 2. This computer allowed activation of all of the 22 possible combinations of manual and/or automatic attitude controls that were provided in the Mercury spacecraft. Three months after delivery, procedures trainer no. 2 was supplied with a small-capacity general-purpose analog computer which permitted activation of only the manual-control modes for the orbital phase of flight. Approximately 6 months prior to completion of Project Mercury, additional equipment was obtained to provide manual damping practice during reentry.

 

Trainer no. 1 had an active periscope display consisting of a moving dot on the face of a cathode ray tube which was activated by the hand controller and the analog computer. Very late in the project a new, versatile, virtual image display was also added to trainer no. 1. This display was used briefly for training prior to the last Mercury flight.

 

Virtual-image celestial display. Because of the state-of-the-art, of space flight external-view simulation at the outset of the Mercury project and the compressed time schedule, no external view other shall that through the periscope was provided on MPT no. 1 at the time of delivery of the procedures trainers. However, considerable effort was expended in trying to develop new and versatile displays. One result of these efforts was the virtual-image viewing system (fig.10-1(p)). The first working model of the system was delivered and installed on the MPT no. 1 in time for limited training prior to the MA-9 flight. This display could simultaneously accept inputs ranging from three-dimensional models to closed-circuit television or film strips. However, the only display available at the time of the MA-9 flight was a star view. The stars were produced by setting ball-bearings of various sizes into the surface of a 12-inch diameter, hollow magnesium sphere which was gimballed and driven by a computer. The ball bearings, upon illumination by a point light source, produce exceedingly realistic point sources of light of the desired brightness to represent the star fields.

 

Yaw-recognition trainer. Prior to the MA-8 six-orbital-pass mission, there was considerable concern regarding whether or not the pilot would be able to detect his yaw position solely by the use of the slow translation of terrain or clouds viewed out the window of his spacecraft. The pilot's ability to determine accurately yaw by using out-the-window references is all-important if his gyro altitude information was lacking during retrofire as in the MA-9 flight. In this case, Astronaut Cooper had to rely on his window scene to determine heading or yaw position accurately for retrofire. (See paper 17.)

 

[185] In order to give the astronauts a preview of the out-the-window motion cues they would have in orbit, a yaw-recognition trainer (fig. 10- 1(o ) was conceived, built, and activated in about 2 weeks. The trainer consisted of a 33-foot diameter convex-lens-shaped screen, one surface of which represented either the earth's surface or a constant-altitude cloud deck. This surface was made of polyethylene plastic and was used to display a real, moving image of simulated clouds produced by a film strip moving at the proper speed through a slide projector. The speed of the image movement duplicated the in-flight apparent movement between the spacecraft and the ground by having the observer view the scene from a point at the middle of the lens while standing 2 feet away from the surface. To heighten realism, the flight crews wore a box over their heads which had an opening which simulated the proper size and shape of the spacecraft window.

 

The MA-8 and MA-3 flight crews utilized the yaw recognition trainer prior to their flights. The other astronauts used the trainer subsequent to their flights. All of the pilots who had flown orbital flights reported that it duplicated almost exactly the visual yaw motion cues observed from the spacecraft.

 

Attitude instrument display mock-up. The attitude instrument display mock-up (fig. 1O-1 (m)) consisted of a half-scale transparent model of the Mercury spacecraft mounted within a four-gimbal all-attitude support. The mock-up contained the actual Mercury rate and attitude indicators without horizon scanner or ASCS logic hardware. The exterior covers of the attitude gyroscopes were removed so that the trainee could observe the manlier in which the attitude gyros tumbled during simulated motions of the spacecraft. The device illustrated how the attitude indicators can read incorrectly as a result of various spacecraft attitudes occurring at times when the floating gyroscope axes are not parallel to the spacecraft axes. The major purpose of this training device was to teach the astronauts how to regain use of the attitude gyros and attitude indicating system if correct reference were lost as a result of the tumbling of the gyros or the interference of the "repeater" stops. This conceptual trainer was very useful and each flight crew spent several hours studying the maneuvers planned for their flights.

 

Ground-recognition trainer. The recognition trainer (fig. 1O-1(n)) consisted of a prototype molded couch, an actual Mercury periscope, a back-projection screen, and a motorized slide projector. The slide projector displayed a colored, moving image of the earth on the screen. No cloud cover was simulated. The image was viewed through the periscope, located at the proper distance from the screen to simulate the geometry of a periscope in a Mercury spacecraft at 110 nautical miles altitude and aimed at the earth's nadir.

 

The purpose of the trainer was to familiarize the astronauts with the wide-angle optics of the periscope which caused a compression of the images of coastlines, rivers, mountain ranges, and other topographical features. This trainer was not used extensively because, to a certain degree, the scenes viewed were very similar to those that were seen through the periscope simulation of the ALFA trainer.

 

Air-lubricated free-attitude trainer. The air-lubricated free-attitude trainer (ALFA) (fig. 10-1 (d) ), was designed and developed by engineers of the NASA Manned Spacecraft Center. This trainer moved on an air- bearing and had 360° of freedom in roll and 35° of freedom in pitch and yaw. The astronaut operated compressed air jets through a Mercury hand controller. Retrofire disturbance torques were also simulated with compressed-air jets.

 

Two attitude-control systems were simulated on ALFA: manual proportional and fly-by-wire. In the fly-by-wire simulation, only the low- torque jets (used for attitude control in orbit when attempting to minimize fuel consumption) were simulated. All three reference systems are provided. The periscope was simulated through a wide-angle lens and a system of mirrors which presented a view of a circular screen on which a map of the earth was projected from-a film strip. The actual Mercury gyro package and instrument display were mounted on the trainer. The window display was simulated schematically by an illuminated strip to represent the horizon and small bulbs to simulate the stars.

 

Multi-Axis Spin-Test Inertia Facility Trainer. The Multi-Axis Spin-Test Inertia [186] Facility (MASTIF) trainer, created in February 1960 by personnel of the NASA Lewis Research Center, was utilized for a simulation training program of recovery from tumbling flight in February 1960. The trainer (fig 10-1 (i) ) consisted of a couch mounted inside three gimbals a three- axis hand controller, and a rate display. The astronauts were spun at rotational rates of about 30 rpm about all three spacecraft axes simultaneously. At a prearranged time, the astronauts assumed control of a three-axis compressed nitrogen fly-by-wire attitude control system and brought the couch to rest by reference to a Mercury rate-indicator instrument.

 

The purpose of the trainer was to provide the best technique and improved confidence level for stopping inadvertent tumbling of the Mercury spacecraft. The training was considered valuable even though the possibility of its application was thought to be fairly remote.

 

Centrifuge Training

 

Four formal centrifuge programs were conducted at the Aviation Medical Acceleration Laboratory's centrifuge at the Naval Air Development Center at Johnsville, Pa., as part of the group training program (fig.10-1(c)) . The first two programs were combined engineering-feasibility and preliminary astronaut familiarization programs while the last two were intensive operational training programs for the Redstone and the Atlas flights. The configuration of the centrifuge gondola and the computer control system varied between programs. The gondola was configured to simulate spacecraft for either orbital or ballistic missions. The simulated attitude control system was run closed loop and the centrifuge was run open loop. The astronauts wore full pressure suits and some runs were made at a simulated altitude of 28,000 feet.

 

Overall, the astronauts experienced an average of 45 hours on the centrifuge. These programs appeared to be extremely valuable both for training and in providing an opportunity for checking out items of personal equipment and for demonstrating the adequacy of the spacecraft instrumentation for viewing under acceleration.

 

Environmental Familiarization

 

Despite the general familiarity of the astronauts with the space flight environment and their demonstrated capability of performing effectively under stress, an attempt was made during the training program to provide additional familiarity with this environment. The following five requirements were thought to be conducive to good performance under space flight conditions:

 

(1) The astronauts required a detailed knowledge of and confidence in the equipment which they had to operate in space. This was primarily provided through the systems training described previously. However, the environmental familiarization involving pressure chamber and centrifuge runs provided an opportunity to become more fully acquainted with the pressure suit, the couch and restraint systems, the bioinstrumentation and other items of personal equipment and to develop confidence that these items would perform their functions adequately in the space-flight environment.

 

(2) The astronauts also required a familiarity with the environment itself. Familiarity with the conditions of space flight minimizes the number of novel and possibly distracting stimuli which will he encountered in flight. Experience with these conditions also permits the development of the specific techniques for minimizing these environmental effects. For example, under acceleration it is necessary for the astronauts to learn a special breathing technique to minimize the tendency of peripheral vision to become blurred because of reduced oxygenation of the blood. During early training, this breathing technique required some thought and distracted the astronauts from their control tasks. However, as training progressed, the breathing became automatic and full attention could be devoted to the task.

 

The accommodation of the pilot to the effects of acceleration can be seen in figure 10-3 which

 


[
187] Figure 10-3. Centrifuge retrofire training.

 

provides a comparison of the retrofire attitude control performance, under the simulated acceleration of the retrorockets and statically. The data presented are average values for all astronauts and show an increase in error with acceleration; however this initial effect tended to disappear with practice.

 

Table 10-IV summarizes the environmental conditions which were simulated during the group training program. The first column lists the various conditions experienced while the second gives the intensity of exposure encountered in suborbital and orbital flights. The third column summarizes the level experienced in training while the final column lists some of the trainers which were used to provide this experience. With the exception of weightlessness, all the environmental conditions were simulated during training at least to the level expected in a normal flight. Weightlessness condition cannot be simulated within the atmosphere for more than 60 seconds; however, the astronauts did, over several runs, build up an average of 40 minutes total weightlessness per man. In general, all of the environmental familiarization experiences were of value. However, with the exception of the linear acceleration experienced on the centrifuge and effects of suit pressurization, none of the environmental simulations were critical, including weightlessness.

 


[
188] Table 10-IV. Flight and Trainer Environmental Summary.

Condition

Level in Flight

Level Experienced in Training

Simulator

Normal

Emergency

Redstone/Atlas

Weightlessness

Redstone, 5 min

Atlas, 4 1/2 hr

-

Up to 60 sec. Average of 40 min total weightlessness

F-100F, C-131B, and C-135 aircraft

Acceleration

Redstone, up to 11g

Atlas, up to 7g

Up to 20g

All normal Atlas and Redstone Profiles and abort profiles up to 16g. Average of 70 dynamic runs per man.

Centrifuge.

Reduced pressure

5 psi for from 4 1/2 to 34 hr

Pressurized 4.6 in. suit.

Up to 6 hours in pressure suit; up to 3 hours in orbit condition; launch and reentry profiles have been experiences in at 5 psi and in pressurized suit.

Environmental simulator Centrifuge.

Heat

Capsule inner wall 275°, postrecovery period at 85°, 35 percent humidity

-

Heat pulse up to 260° with normal recovery period.

Environmental simulator.

Rotation (Disorientation)

10°/sec

-

Up to 60 rpm

ALFA trainer; Pensacola rotating room.

Tumbling

None

-

Up to 54 rpm

MASTIF

High Levels CO2

Below 0.04 percent

Up to 3.5 percent

Slow buildup to 3.5 percent

Submarine environmental tank.

Noise and Vibration

150 db outside spacecraft

130 db inside spacecraft,

110 db at ear

-

90 to 110 db for normal Atlas launch period

Centrifuge, Langley, Noise tests.


 

[189] (3) A high level of physical conditioning was also required. Since, to meet flying requirements, the trainees had been maintaining themselves in good condition for a number of years, no formal group physical training program was initiated aside from a short period of instruction in scuba diving. Reliance was placed on each individual to keep himself in good physical condition and he was aided in monitoring his conditions by frequent physical examinations and by his own observations of his ability to perform adequately on the centrifuge and in other types of environmental training.

 

(4) A fourth requirement was the detailed planning and practice of emergency procedures until they could be rapidly and correctly executed. The majority of this type of training occurred on the procedures trainer, particularly during the period just prior to the flight.

 

(5) A final requirement for performing effectively under stress was to maintain their habits of altertness and their ability to react rapidly and think effectively in emergencies, which they had developed during their careers in flying. Since none of the training situations involved any significant amount of hazard, it was important that the astronauts have an opportunity to maintain their skills in meeting real emergencies. As a result they were provided with aircraft so they could maintain their lying skills (See fig. 10-1(b)).

 

Through these five steps, knowledge of the equipment available to their use, familiarity with the environment, physical conditioning, preplanning for emergencies, and the habit of constant alertness and readiness for action, the astronauts were provided with the basis for a high degree of effectiveness in performing well under the unusual environmental conditions associated with space flight.

 

In considering the problems of preparing individuals for performing effectively in a realistic environment, it is interesting to note that a number of programs in which it was intended to use actual hardware in real environments in order to trail, the astronauts, were considered but were not put into practice because the training value appeared to be too small to justify the cost or safety hazards involved in their implementation. At the initiation of the Mercury program, it had been recommended that as part of the training program a series of balloon flights be undertaken in which the actual Mercury spacecraft would be carried to altitudes of from 80,000 to 100,000 feet. The plans for this program were carried for several months and the requirements studied in detail. The studies indicated that training value did not justify the risk or the cost involved in the program. Two other programs of a similar nature were also eliminated. One program involved placing the actual spacecraft on the Lewis MASTIF device for training in controlling attitude during retrofire. The MASTIF device was inside a full-scale wind tunnel, which could have been depressurized. Analysis also showed that it would be very difficult to reproduce the conditions of motion typical of space flight because of the very high inertia of the MASTIF gimbals. A final program of the same sort was a plan to place a flight Mercury spacecraft on top of the Redstone launch vehicle during static firing so that the astronaut could experience the actual noise and vibration typical of launch. Once again neither the risk nor the cost appeared justified in view of the limited training value. These three examples illustrate what seems to be a basic result of the Mercury training experience. Using actual flight equipment in simulated environments for trainings purposes alone generally involves too great an expense to be worthwhile. When only training is involved, mission simulators are most efficient. On the other hand, in the Mercury program, valuable training was achieved during the launch checkout of the actual flight vehicle in the pressure chamber at Cape Canaveral. In this case, however, the simulation benefited not only the training program but the checkout of the flight article.

 

Egress and Survival Training

 

The astronauts were provided with several training programs designed to prepare them to egress successfully, survive and be recovered under various contingency conditions. The egress and survival programs are summarized as follows.

 

Egress training, phase 1. The first egress training program was conducted in February 1960, in which the egress trainer, spacecraft no. 5, (fig. 10-1 (j)) and the NASA Langley Research Center Hydrodynamic Basin no. 1 were [190] used. Each of the astronauts . made several egresses through the top hatch with and without the pressure suits in calm water and in artificially generated waves up to 2 feet in height.

 

Egress training, phase 2. The first full-scale open water egress program was conducted in the Gulf of Mexico near the Pensacola Naval Air Station in March and April of 1960. This program consisted of 1 day at sea, during which both top and side hatch egresses were accomplished, and a second day at the training tank for water-survival technique and drill.

 

Egress training, phase 3. Under water egress was accomplished at NASA Langley Research Center in August 1960, with the Langley Research Center Hydrodynamic Basin No.1 again being used. Each astronaut made six egresses while the spacecraft was submerged. Half of these were accomplished while wearing the Mercury pressure suit.

 

Periodically, the astronauts were given refresher courses on proper egress and recovery procedures through briefings and participation in subsequent egress and recovery exercises.

 

In addition, each designated flight crew participated in a full-scale recovery exercise prior to each flight during which both top and side egress, survival equipment deployment, and helicopter pickup operations were accomplished.

 

Survival. training, phase 1. Water survival training was accomplished in conjunction with most of the water-egress programs and through briefings. The first water-survival training program was conducted at Pensacola, Florida, in March 1960. The training consisted of several briefings, a training film, and actual practice with the use of the survival equipment in the training tank and in the open sea during egress and recovery operations.

 

Survival training, phase 2. In July 1960, the Mercury astronauts completed a 5 1/2-day course in desert survival at the Air Force Survival School, Stead Air Force Base, Nevada. The course consisted of three phases: (1) 1 1/2 days of academics oriented to survival operations in the North African or Australian desert; (2) 1 day of field demonstrations covering the utilization and care of available clothing and spacecraft and survival equipment; and (3) 3 clays of remote-site training during which the astronauts applied the knowledge and techniques that they had learned during the briefings and demonstrations.

 

Preflight Preparation

 

Approximately 3 months prior to each flight, the designated pilot and his backup began specific preparations for the mission. The period of preparation was, however, somewhat variable depending upon the particular mission and the time between missions permitted by the flight schedules. Pilots participating in the earlier missions kind the advantage that the training received in the group program was fresher and that less change kind occurred in the vehicle configuration between the time of this program and their flight. Those participating in later flights experienced a lapse of intensive training from 1 to 2 years and had the problem that the spacecraft configuration had changed considerably in the interim, particularly as the mission length was extended. Thus, the preflight period of training became more and more significant. The final impression developing out of the Mercury experience was that on a day-for-day basis preflight preparation was the most valuable period of the training program. Experience indicated that the pilot was required to put in a 10- to 12-hour day for at least 6 days a week during this preflight period. Astronaut Cooper's activities during this time are shown in table 10-V. Since there were so many demands upon the pilot's time, a definite danger existed that important items of training would be pushed aside or overlooked unless care was taken to plan carefully in advance, and frequent training reviews were held to assure that all critical training items had been accomplished. During this period there are five major preparation activities for the flight crew. These activities have been described previously by Astronaut Carpenter (ref. 13).

 


[
191] Table 10-V. MA-9 Pilot Preflight Activities From January 1, 1963 to Launch Date.

Date

Day

Activities

Jan.2

Wed

Altitude Chamber Systems Test Review, blood-pressure checkout in altitude chamber, flying (TF-102A)

Jan.4 to 7

Fri. to Tues

Altitude Chamber Systems Test

Jan.10

Thurs.

Flight-plan review, flying (TF-102A)

Jan.12

Sat.

TV systems test, flying (TF-102A)

Jan.18 and 19

Fri and Sat.

Morehead Planetarium (celestial review)

Jan.21

Mon.

Weight and balance

Jan.22

Tues.

Systems briefings (ASCS and RCS)

Jan.23

Wed.

Systems briefings (communications and sequential)

Jan.24

Thurs.

Flight-plan and experiments review

Jan.25

Fri.

Systems briefings (electrical and ECS)

Jan.30

Wed.

Flying (F-102A)

Jan.31

Thurs.

Flying (T-33A)

Feb.1

Fri.

Launch vehicle rollout inspection

Feb.2

Sat.

Flying (T-33A)

Feb.3

Sun.

Flying (T-33A)

Feb.4

Mon.

Experiments status review

Feb.5

Tues.

Flight-plan review

Feb.6

Wed.

Couch fitting

Feb.7

Thurs.

Flying (T-33A)

Feb.8

Fri.

Observation of flashing beacon on T-33A

Feb.11

Mon.

Flight-plan briefing to Deputy Director for Mission Requirements

Feb.12

Tues.

Flying (F-102A)

Feb.20

Wed.

Flying (F-102A), flight-food testing

Feb.21

Thurs.

Experiments briefings

Feb.23

Sat.

Flying (T-33A)

Mar.1

Fri.

TV systems test

Mar.4

Mon.

Communication systems radiation test

Mar.6

Wed.

Weight and balance

Mar.8

Fri.

Flying (F-102A)

Mar.12

Tues.

Couch fitting

Mar.13

Wed.

Flying (T-33A, F-102A)

Mar.14

Thurs.

Communication systems radiation test

Mar.15

Fri.

Communication systems radiation test, Mercury Procedures Trainer

Mar.19

Tues.

Darkness and egress test

Mar.20 to 24

Wed. to Sun.

Simulated flight (Hangar)

Mar.24

Sun.

Flying (F-102A)

Mar.26

Tues.

Flying (T-33A)

Mar.27

Wed.

Flying (T-33A), Mercury Procedures Trainer

Mar.28

Thurs.

Flying (T-33A), Centrifuge&emdash;acceleration refamiliarization

Mar.29

Fri.

Mercury Procedures Trainer

Apr.1 and 2

Mon. and Tues.

Mercury Procedures Trainer

Apr.4

Thurs.

DOD-NASA MA-9 Review, Prepad RCS test

Apr.5

Fri.

Mercury Procedures Trainer, flying (TF-102), Morehead Planetarium (Celestial review)

Apr.6

Sat.

Morehead Planetarium (Celestial review)

Apr.7

Sun.

Flying (F-102A)

Apr.9

Tues.

Flying (F-102A)

Apr.10

Wed.

Egress and recovery training

Apr.11

Thurs.

Egress and recovery training, survival pack exercise

Apr.15

Mon.

Flying (F-102A)

Apr.16

Tues.

Mercury Procedures Trainer, mission and flight controller briefing

Apr.17

Wed.

Mission and flight controller briefing

Apr.18

Thurs.

Alinement, weight, and balance; Mercury Procedures Trainer

Apr.19

Fri.

Mercury Procedures Trainer

[192] Table 10-V. MA-9 Pilot Preflight Activities From January 1, 1963 to Launch Date- Continued.

Date

Day

Activities

Apr. 22

Mon

Mechanical mate

Apr. 23

Tues

Simulated flight no. 1

Apr. 24

Wed

Electrical mate

Apr. 25

Thurs

Mercury Procedures Trainer

Apr. 27

Sat

Mercury Procedures Trainer

Apr. 29

Mon

Yaw demonstration (AF Hangar)

Apr. 30

Tues

Systems briefings (review)

May 1

Wed

Systems and operations examination

May 2

Thurs

Launch simulation, Mission Rules review

May 3

Fri

Examination questionnaire review, marked spacecraft's normal and emergency instrument limits

May 4

Sat

Launch simulation

May 5

Sun

Flying (TF-102A)

May 6

Mon

Flight configuration sequence and aborts

May 7

Tues

Network simulation, Flight Plan Procedures training

May 8

Wed

Launch simulation and RF compatibility tests

May 9

Thurs

Network simulation

May 10

Fri

Simulated flight no. 3, flying (F-102A)

May 11

Sat

Mission Status Review, flight-plan and experiments briefings

May 12

Sun

Network simulation, physical examination

May 13

Mon

Mercury Procedures Trainer, mission review

May 14

Tues

Countdown (canceled)

May 15

Wed

Launch


 

Integration of the Pilot and the Spacecraft

 

After the spacecraft had been delivered to the launch site, a primary opportunity was provided for the pilot to operate the actual controls of the spacecraft. The participation of the MA-9 pilot with the checkout activities of the spacecraft is listed in table 10-VI(a) and a summary of the time spent in the actual spacecraft of all

 


Table IO-VI.-Pilot Time in Spacecraft During Hangar and launch Complex

(a) MA-9 Pilot Time in Spacecraft 20

Date

Test description

Duration, hr: min

Oct. 11 to 19, 1962

Integrated systems tests

06:45

Nov. 11, 1962

RCS-hangar

03:15

Jan. 5, 1963

Altitude chamber

06:45

Jan. 12 and Mar. 1, 1963

TV systems test

07:00

Mar. 4, 14, 15, 1963

Communications systems radiation test

04:45

Mar. 19, 1963

Darkness and egress

01:20

Mar. 20, 21, 22, 1963

Simulated flight, hangar

12:10

April 4, 1963

Prepad RCS test .

00:50

April 18, 1963

Alinement, weight, and balance

04:00

April 23, 1963

Systems test and simulated flight no. 1

04:00

April 24, 1963

Electrical mate

04:30

May 3, 1963

Mark instrument normal and emergency limits.

00:45

May 6, 1963

Flight configuration sequence and abort

03:00

May 8, 1963

Launch simulation and RF compatibility.

05:00

May 10, 1963

Systems test and simulated flight no. 3

03:45

May 14, 1963

Countdown (canceled)

06:00

(b) Approximate Time in Flight Spacecraft During Preparation Periods for Each Orbital Flight.

Flight

Time, hr

MA-6

25:55

MA-7

45:00

MA-8

31:27

MA-9

73:50

Average

44:03


 

[193] the orbital pilots is given in table 10-VI(b). This activity is essential, since:

(1) An opportunity was provided to make final adjustments of personal equipment, such as the pressure suit, survival equipment, food items, and check lists to satisfy the special requirements of the flight spacecraft and the pilot.

(2) These tests provided an opportunity to check out the spacecraft system with the man in the loop; thus, for example, the adequacy of the environmental control system was checked with the pressure drop resulting from the pilot in his suit.

(3) The pilot became familiar with the specific configuration and performance of his spacecraft. The settings for the cooling system or the feel characteristics of the control systems vary slightly from spacecraft to spacecraft, and the pilot had an opportunity to become familiar with these features of the vehicle he would fly.

(4) The pilot had an opportunity to gain further familiarity with the prelaunch checkout procedures on the launch pad. During this time, he learned his role in the countdown and became familiar with the instrument indications and the lights and sounds that accompany the various tests as the vehicle is readied for flight.

 

Systems Training

 

A second major area of activity of the astronauts during this period was in systems training for his spacecraft. This systems training began with one or more series of lectures by the engineers involved in the checkout of the vehicle. Each lecture covered a specific system in great detail, emphasizing operational techniques and functional interrelationships. These systems lectures were then followed by extensive practice in emergency procedures on the Mercury procedures trainer. A problem was encountered in modifying the Mercury procedures trainer no. 2 to keep it as close as possible to the configuration of each spacecraft. It was, of course, impossible to make them completely identical. However, in general, it was possible to alter the trainer so that as the spacecraft systems were modified, the changed performance would be reflected to the pilot during simulations. When modifications could not be made, it was extremely important to make the pilot aware of the differences between the trainer's operation and the flight operation so that he could keep them clearly in mind.

 

Table 10-VII(a) summarizes the MA-9 pilot's training on Mercury Procedures Trainer no. 2 whereas table 10-VII(b) shows the total amount of time spent on the Mercury procedures trainer by the pilots of the four orbital missions during their preflight training program. Also indicated in table 10-VII ( b ) are the numbers and categories of malfunctions experienced. These data give some indication of the amount of time devoted to recognition and correction of the many malfunctions which could be programed into the trainer. The relative emphasis to be placed on emergency procedures in comparison with normal mission activities is difficult to assess. This seems to be a characteristic which may be increasingly true in the future, since a major function of the man may be to correct malfunctions of the vehicle's systems.

 


[
194] Table 10-VII. Summary of Time Spent on MPT No.2 During Preflight Preparation Period.

(a) MA-9 Pilot

Date, 1963

Type of training

Time, hr:min

Number of simulated missions

Number and type of simulated missions

Special training activities (a)

ECS

RCS

Sequential

Electrical

Communications

Other

Mar.15

Flight checklist review

02:15

4

-

-

-

-

-

-

1,3,4

Mar.27

Attitude control practice

01:45

1

-

-

-

-

-

-

1,4

Mar.29

Simulated systems failures

02:30

8

3

2

4

3

1

1

1,2,3,4

Apr.1

Simulated systems failures

02:30

5

2

-

5

2

1

1

1,2,3

Apr.2

Simulated systems failures

02:00

3

-

2

5

1

-

-

2,3

Apr.5

Simulated systems failures

01:30

2

2

-

2

-

1

-

2,3

Apr.18

Simulated systems failures

02:15

4

2

1

4

4

-

1

1,2,3

Apr.19

Simulated systems failures

03:45

6

1

1

4

3

1

1

2,3,5

Apr.25

Flight-plan activities

02:00

2

1

-

-

-

-

-

1,4

Apr.27

Simulated systems failures

01:30

3

-

1

1

1

1

-

1,2,3

May 2

MCC-BDA simulation

01:30

2

-

-

2

1

-

-

2,3

May 4

MCC-BDA simulation

01:30

2

2

-

1

1

-

1

2,3

May 7

Network simulation and flight-plan activities

05:00

2

-

-

-

-

-

-

1,4,5

May 9

Network simulation

01:00

2

-

-

-

-

-

-

1

May 12

Network simulation

01:00

1

-

-

1

-

-

-

1

May 13

Simulated systems failures

01:30

5

-

1

3

1

-

1

1,2,3

Total

33:30

52

13

8

32

17

5

6

[195] Table 10-VII. Concluded.

(b) Four Orbital Pilots.

Flight

Number of missions

Total Hours on MPT no.2

Number and type of failures

ECS

RCS

Sequential

Electrical

Communication

Other

MA-6

80

59:45

30

24

57

35

11

25

MA-7

73

70:40

24

11

43

26

7

32

MA-8

37

29:15

10

5

22

15

5

11

MA-9

52

33:30

13

8

32

17

5

6

Average

60

48:35

19

12

38

23

7

18


 

Flight Plan Development and Training

 

The pilot also participated in the development and practice of a mission flight plan, which varied considerably in each mission. (See paper 17.) The astronaut participated in this process to help insure that he adequately understood the requirements and that the specific procedures could be carried out without compromising other mission requirements. The flight plan activities were tried out in the Mercury procedures trainer to determine the best procedures and equipment configurations. Since it was highly desirable to give the pilot ample opportunity to practice the flight plan and to get experience with the experimental equipment prior to the flight, it was essential to finalize the flight plan and have the experimental equipment ready well ahead of the launch date.

 

In addition to the practice of the specific mission activities in the Mercury procedures trainer, a number of special refresher training activities were conducted. Normally, each of the flight crews received a short refresher training program on the centrifuge. In this program no attempt was made to provide a complete simulation of the Mercury instrument panel or control tasks. The pilots normally experienced from six to eight launch or reentry profiles in the centrifuge to help refresh them in their breathing and straining techniques.

 

The flight crews also normally received a planetarium indoctrination (fig. 10-I(h) ) to help them review the celestial sphere as seen from orbit. Since these programs were held close to the flight date, it was normally possible to simulate the appearance of the sky on the actual day of the launch and to simulate some of the special astronomical phenomena to be observed during the flight.

 

Combined Astronaut-Flight Controller Training

 

A fourth area of training conducted during the preflight period was the combined training of the astronaut with the flight control groups. For this training the Mercury procedures trainer no. 2 was tied into the Mercury Control Center's simulation equipment so that the astronaut could communicate directly with the flight controllers and the vehicle parameters from the Mercury procedures trainer no. 2 would be displayed to the flight controller in the same form as the vehicle data during the flight. Two types of training runs were made. The first was the launch- emergency training sessions in which only the launch portion of the mission was simulated. Various types of emergencies were simulated, some affected the astronaut but most involved information displayed to the controllers. During this time the astronaut and the ground flight controllers had an opportunity to become familiar with each other's procedures and to refine the launch communications and emergency procedures. Following each run, a debriefing session would be held to critique the run and to modify any procedures which did not appear adequate.

 

Following the launch abort simulations, network simulations were run with the flight controllers. On these simulations the pilot, through the hardline, could be in direct communication not only with the launch control center but with the other flight-control sites in the United States and Australia. In [196] these simulations the pilot would frequently take part, thereby providing some of the stations with an opportunity to become familiar with his particular voice and communication patterns. This was particularly significant for the medical monitors since they made use of voice communications as one of their major monitoring aids. While these sessions were highly valuable for the flight controller, they were less valuable for the astronaut since much of his time would be spent with the spacecraft in the orbital configuration with little or no opportunity to practice emergency procedures. As a result, the astronaut frequently went through a launch and perhaps one-orbital pass with the network simulation and then spent the rest of his time in the simulator, carrying out emergency procedures and other special activities in which he particularly needed practice.

 

Medical and Physical Preparation

 

A final area of activity during this preflight period was in the medical and physical preparation of the astronaut. During this period, the final physical examinations, establishing the fitness of the pilot for the flight, were given and the majority of the baseline data with which the inflight results would be correlated was collected. It was also during this period that the astronaut was placed on a special diet in order to prevent possible solid waste problem during the flight. Medical preparations for the flight are described in greater detail in paper 11.

 

During this preflight period each of the astronauts intensified their physical fitness program, bringing it to a peak shortly before the launch date. This physical activity was important not only in insuring a high level of fitness at the time of launch but it also served the purpose of giving the pilot an opportunity to relax from the pressing technical problems which occupied the majority of his day. Overall, the problem of maintaining good physical fitness and avoiding excessive fatigue during this period was a serious one.

 

Concern was expressed in some quarters that the repeated delays which often occurred in the launch date would produce anxiety in the pilot or result in a letdown in proficiency due to "over training" or loss of motivation. No such effects were noted with any of the pilots. Astronaut Glenn experienced the longest delay following a launch attempt (30 days) with no undesirable effects either by his own account (ref. 14) or as indicated by his trainer performance. His performance on the retrofire control task for the month before and after the postponement of his flight is shown in figure 10-4. As can be seen there is no evidence of decrement in performance following the postponed launch.

 


Figure 10-4. Procedures trainer retrofire attitude control scores. MA-6 pilot.

 

Training Evaluation

 

The inflight performance of the pilot provides the best indication of the adequacy of the astronaut training program. Further verification was provided by comparing performance of specific maneuvers during flight with those on the trainers, and by having the pilots' comment on the value of the various training devices.

 

In those cases where specific flight maneuvers were practiced on the procedures trainer, comparisons can be made between the attitudes held in the trainer and those maintained in flight. This has been done in all previous flight reports in the sections on pilot performance (refs. 15 to 19). However, the number of these comparisons is limited since many periods of manual maneuvering could not be compared with ground data because the specific maneuver carried out during flight v as not practiced under controlled conditions or because the maneuver involved attitudes outside the limits of the autopilot sensing system, in which case, attitude data would not be available from the gyro indicators.

 

A great deal of evaluative material was obtained from the astronauts during the debriefings [197] following each mission. In general, the astronauts reported that while weightlessness was generally pleasant, there was a short period curing the flight when they felt that they needed some time to adapt to both the weightless experience and to the novel view through the spacecraft window. (See paper 20.) Both of these features of the space flight were inadequately simulated during the training periods since the weightless condition could not be simulated for more than a minute and, until late in the program, there was no dynamic simulation of the view through the Mercury spacecraft window. This adaptation period, to the orbital flight condition, might have been reduced had it been possible to have a simulation of the external view and more prolonged weightless experience. In any case, this small adaptation period was not a serious problem for any of the astronauts.

 

The pilots were unanimous in indicating the importance of their participation in the checkout of the spacecraft during the period just prior to the flight. Many of them felt that this was the most valuable single portion of the training program. All of the pilots felt that the procedures trainer w as the single, most useful training device. However, there were variations among them in the opinions of the amount of time required on the trainer prior to the flight. There was also general agreement that the centrifuge was the most critical environmental simulation device and that a short refamiliarization experience on the centrifuge prior to the flight was highly desirable.

 

The Mercury flight program was too limited to evaluate in detail all the many training devices and programs which were used in the astronaut training program. However, the best estimate of the authors as to the relative utility of the various trainers and programs are indicated in Table IO-I in the last column. In considering these ratings, the reader should note that they apply to programs with the special features of the Mercury training program listed in the introduction to this section. In addition to these ratings, the following general conclusions appear warranted:

(1) The devices and programs used in the Mercury astronaut training program were adequate to provide transition training for skilled pilots to the operation of a spacecraft.

(2) The program could have been shortened and made more efficient had adequate training facilities been available at the initiation of training and in one location.

(3) The most important environmental factors requiring simulation during the training were linear acceleration and the reduced mobility produced by the pressurized suit.

(4) Other environmental simulations were desirable but not critical to adequate flight preparation. This conclusion includes the weightless experience. However, it should be noted that training in weightlessness was relatively unimportant in the Mercury program because the astronaut was unable to move from the seat.

(5) Simulations involving actual flight hardware in realistic environments were studied and generally found to involve more cost and risk shall could be justified by their training value, unless they were required for vehicle checkouts.

(6) Experience in the actual vehicle to be flown prior to the flight is a highly essential feature of the preflight preparation and is an exception to the foregoing generalization.

(7) Flight plans and all experimental and other movable equipment items which will be used within the spacecraft must be available and finalized well in advance of the launch date in order to permit adequate time for training in their use.

(8) A fixed-based simulator with dynamic displays is generally adequate for orbital flight training since angular and linear acceleration cues are relatively insignificant in the weightless condition. However, in certain cases motion may simplify the simulation problem.

(9) Two simulators are necessary in order to support both the general group training program at the central site and the preflight preparation program at the launch site.

(10) External view simulation on the full-mission simulator is essential since much of the orbital maneuvering will be done with the external view used as a reference.

(11) Integrated flight crew-flight controller training is essential to refine mission rules and communication procedures.

(12) Flexibility in the design of all trainer systems is essential in order to permit modification to fit the particular configuration of each flight vehicle.

 

[198] References

 

l. VOAS, ROBERT B.: A Description of the Astronaut's Task; in Project Mercury. Human Factors Journal, vol.3, no. 3, June 1961, pp. 149-165.

2. SLAYTON, D. K.: A Pilot's Look at Project Mercury. Paper given to the Society of Experimental Test Pilots Oct. 9, 1969.

3. WILSON, C. L., ea.: Project Mercury Candidate Evaluation Program. Wright Air Development Center, WADC Tech. Rep. 59 605, Dec. 1959.

4. RUFF, GEORGE E., and LEVY, EDWIN Z.: Psychiatric Evaluation of Candidates for Space Flight. Am. Jour. Of Psychiatry, vol. 116, Nov. 1959, pp. 385-391.

5. CARP, ABRAHAM, ea.: Report of the Working Group on Personnel Selection for Man in Space. Meeting at National Academy Research Council Building, Washington, D.C., Dec. 2-3, 1959.

6. DOUGLAS, W. K.: Selection and Training of Space Crews. Lectures in Aerospace Medecine, USAF Aerospace Medical Center, Jan. 11-16, 1960.

7. SLAYTON, DONALD K.: Pilot Training and Preflight Preparation. Proc. Conf. on Results of the First U.S. Manned Suborbital Space Flight. NASA, Nat. Inst. Health, Nat. Acad. Sci., June 6, 1961, pp. 11-18.

8. VOAS, ROBERT B.: Project Mercury Astronaut Training Program. In Psychophysiological Aspects of Space Flight, Columbia U. Press, 1961, pp.96 116.

9. ANON.: Project Mercury Familiarization Manual. McDonnell Aircraft Corp., SEDR 104, Dec. 1, 1962.

10. ANON.: Capsule Flight Operations Manual. McDonnell Aircraft Corp. SEDR.

11. ANON.: Operational Manual for Manned Satellite Capsule Procedures Trainer. McDonnell Aircraft Corp SEDR 115, Book I, Apr. 30, 1960.

12. VOAS, ROBERT B.: Manned Control of Mercury Spacecraft. Astronautics, vol. 7, no. 3. Mar. 1962, p. 18.

13. CARPENTER, M. SCOTT: Astronaut Preparation. Results of the First U.S. Manned Orbital Space Flight, February 20, 1962. Supt. Doc., U. S. Government Printing Office (Washington, D.C.) pp. 105-111.

14. GLENN, JOHN H., JR.: Pilot's Flight Report. Results of the First U.S. Manned Orbital Space Flight. February 20, 1962. Supt. Doc., U.S. Government Printing Office (Washington, D.C.) pp. 119-136.

15. STAFFS of NASA, NAT. INST. HEALTH;, and NAT. ACAD. SCI.: Proceedings of a Conference on Results of the First U.S. Manned Suborbital Space Flight. Supt. Doc., U.S. Government Printing Office (Washington, D.C. ), June 6, 1961.

16. STAFF of NASA MANNED SPACECRAFT CENTER: Results of the Second U.S. Manned Suborbital Space Flight, July 21,1961. Supt. Doc., U.S.. Government Printing Office (Washington, D.C.).

17. STAFF of NASA MANNED SPACECRAFT CENTER: Results of the First United States Orbital Space Flight, February 20, 1962. Supt. Doc., U.S. Government Printing Office (Washington, D.C.).

18. STAFF of NASA MANNED SPACECRAFT CENTER: Results of the Second United States Orbital Space Flight, May 24, 1962. NASA SP-6, Supt. Doc., U.S. Government Printing Office (Washington, D.C.).

19. STAFF of NASA MANNED SPACECRAFT CENTER: Results of the Third United States Manned Orbital Space Flight, October 3, 1962. NASA SP-12, Supt. Doc., U.S. Government Printing Office (Washington, D.C.), Dec. 1962.

 


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