The Physics
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Acceleration in a Training Centrifuge

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Lawson, Ben and Stephanie Sides. Chapter 6:Virtual Acceleration: The Role of the Vestibulator Modality. VE Handbook. University of Central Florida. "G-FET … 2015-SP … Acceleration is 0 to 15G … US NAVY DFS … Maximum acceleration of 40G … PINTLE MOTION BASE SIMULATOR … Acceleration @rated mass: Lateral 320 kg (700 lbm) - 16.7g Longitudinal 770 kg (1700 lbm) - 16.1g Vertical 320 kg (700 lbm) - 26.4g … HORIZONTAL ACCELERATOR … Max. acceleration 140g … VERTICAL ACCELERATOR … Max. acceleration 75g" 15-140 g
Gourley, Scott R. Coming Full Circle.Military Training Technology Online Archives. "To date, the system has achieved its critical design goals of 10g/sec onset rates and maximum G level of 15 G's." 15 g
Hong, Sungook. "Centrifuge, Human" Instruments of Science, A Technical Encyclopedia. New York City: Garland Publishing, 1998: 94-95. "The lengths of the arms of the first 2 machines were 2.6 and 4.2, respectively, and they could produce centrifuge accelerations of up to 20 g." 20 g
Aero Medical Training Systems Dynamic Flight Simulator. Wyle Laboratories. "Maximum G (design) 15 g" 15 g

The human centrifuge consists of a horizontally aligned arm with a cabin for the passenger on one end. The arm rotates around a vertical axis and is powered by an electric motor. An accelerative force can be applied to the body along three axes: longitudinal, transverse and lateral (lengthwise, widthwise and diagonally).

A training centrifuge like the one described above is used to artificially increase accelerative force under controlled conditions. It prepares astronauts and fighter pilots for the extreme force they will experience in space or in a fighter jet. The simulation is used not only to increase their "G tolerance" but also to determine what physiological ramifications can result from exposure to increased accelerative forces. Equipment used today can successfully monitor human performance while the subject is inside the spinning centrifuge.

The origins of centrifugation date back to the beginning of the nineteenth century. Rotating a person by placing him/her along the arm of the centrifuge (which was originally operated manually and later energized by gas power) was believed to be conducive to treating nervous and mental diseases. The first modern human centrifuges were not built until the 1930s. These original devices could produce accelerations of up to 20 times the acceleration due to gravity, which is still the maximum acceleration that training centrifuges reach today. During World War II, many more centrifuges were built and developed, but centrifugation did not become widely used for training until much later. Incidents of acceleration-induced loss of consciousness (GLOC) were reported to have caused some deadly aircraft accidents in the 1970s. In the 1980s, in an attempt to reduce the risk of GLOC-related incidents, air force training facilities in many countries began to see centrifugation as a regular part of pilot training.

Nowadays, both astronauts and fighter pilots go through high-G simulation training. The effect produced by the centrifuge stays true to the real motion the pilot or astronaut experiences in practice. Virtual displays are sometimes used to make the centrifuge experience all the more realistic. Symptoms of nausea, dizziness and eye-strain are common for those who are experiencing centrifugation and can sometimes last for a little while even after the passenger gets out.

The maximum acceleration in the training centrifuges used today is most often 15 to 20 g depending on the model.

Nikkie Zanevsky -- 2003