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Shock Absorbers For Orion: NASA Turns To Verne

A shock absorbing system has been proposed for the Ares I rocket that will boost the Orion space shuttle replacement.

Without the upgrade, an Ares I rocket and its astronaut crew would be subjected to shaking forces of up to five or six times Earth's gravity (5 to 6 Gs), or about twice the force experienced by shuttle astronauts during launch, according to NASA's early analysis. But with the shock absorbers in place, vibrations in the Ares 1 rocket should be limited to about 0.25 Gs, or one-fourth the force of Earth's gravity, NASA engineers said.

The peak shaking should last just a few seconds near the 115-second mark just after liftoff, said Cook, who sat in a chair-based simulation of the vibration in a NASA test...

The higher vibrations were not a crew health concern, but could prevent astronauts from reading instrument panels or flipping switches precisely due to blurry vision.

One hundred and forty years ago, Jules Verne had similar concerns about the shock that would occur when the great projectile was shot from the Columbiad in his 1867 novel From the Earth to the Moon:

The projectile had now to be filled to the depth of three feet with a bed of water, intended to support a water-tight wooden disc, which worked easily within the walls of the projectile. It was upon this kind of raft that the travelers were to take their place. This body of water was divided by horizontal partitions, which the shock of the departure would have to break in succession. Then each sheet of the water, from the lowest to the highest, running off into escape tubes toward the top of the projectile, constituted a kind of spring; and the wooden disc, supplied with extremely powerful plugs, could not strike the lowest plate except after breaking successively the different partitions. Undoubtedly the travelers would still have to encounter a violent recoil after the complete escapement of the water; but the first shock would be almost entirely destroyed by this powerful spring...
(Read more about the water-springs)

Via Space.com.

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