History of Research in Space Biology and Biodynamics
- PART V -
[65] In addition to major contributions in such space biology research fields as the hazards of cosmic radiation and the effects of subgravity and zero-g, the Aeromedical Field Laboratory of the Air Force Missile Development Center has made significant progress in biodynamics research. It was in 1953 that research in biodynamics began at the Holloman installation. As discussed in a previous monograph,1 the initial primary concern in this area of endeavor was with the problem of escape from high-performance aircraft.
The memorable rocket-sled rides of Lieutenant Colonel (Doctor and later Colonel) John Paul Stapp were to provide data on human tolerance to windblast and deceleration encountered in escape situations. Research on the escape problem, however, has been only one aspect of the Laboratory's complex biodynamics program, and the famous high-speed track only one of the research and test facilities at Holloman Air Force Base that are used for this experimentation.
Tests conducted on the high-speed track, in addition to making available information related to escape, have provided pure research data on deceleration, and have also thrown light on such problems as aircraft crash forces and atmospheric re-entry. Furthermore, the Aeromedical Field Laboratory staff has developed certain specialized test instruments, ranging from a mere swing seat to the highly-instrumented 120-foot Daisy Track, for the study of a wide array of impact forces.
The biodynamics research program of the Aeromedical Field Laboratory has been conducted primarily under the auspices of Project 7850, which was established in 1954-1955 with the title Biodynamics of Human Factors in Aviation. However, aviation was never stressed to the exclusion of other problems. Even automotive crash research was conducted as a separate task of Project 7850, while other project activities were oriented toward problems of manned space flight. Indeed, with the post-Sputnik revolution in Air Force research activity, scientists of the Aeromedical Field Laboratory at last became free to emphasize space work to their hearts' content. It has now become the primary-though still not exclusive-interest of Project 7850, which in March 1958 was revised and renamed Biodynamics of Space Flight.2
From the standpoint of administrative organization, Project 7850 was originally entrusted to the Aeromedical Field Laboratory's Biodynamics Branch. When the laboratory received an important new mission in biosatellite work in mid-1958, the Biodynamics Branch went into a state of suspended animation, losing its chief, Captain (Doctor) John D. Mosely, and all its personnel to a new Satellite Operations Branch. The new branch also received responsibility for Project 7850, but with the understanding that it would receive low priority until people and resources were made available. Thus the biodynamics program, at least in the form known up to now, is also on semi-active status. But there is no intention of abandoning it outright. The program has already produced data that will be of value for a great many purposes, including biosatellite operations; and one other Air Force agency, the Aero Medical Laboratory at Wright Field, has promised to channel an ever growing amount of biodynamics work to the Holloman unit, especially in the testing of escape systems and personal equipment.3