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UPDATE # 1 - November 10, 1997

PART 1: Welcome to the project
PART 2: Web Chat with NASA expert
PART 3: How to Build a Flight Simulation
PART 4: Subscribing and Unsubscribing

Welcome to the "Aerospace Team Online" project!

Although this is designed principally as a project for
pre-college classrooms, everybody is welcome. In addition to this
maillist, a rich web site is available at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero
Please visit!

Over the next seven months, you will receive a unique perspective on
the Aeronautics Design and Research. We have recruited 25 people, so far,
who work in Aeronautics. These folks have a fascinating story to tell.
Aerospace Team Online will bring you into flight simulators and wind
tunnels to see NASA employees doing aerodynamic design research. You will
hear from the engineers, technicians, mechanics and designers working to
make tomorrow's planes safer, more efficient, quieter, and faster. We'll
look over their shoulders as they operate flight simulations, prepare
models for wind tunnel tests, run tests, analyze data, compute fluid
dynamic models and more. The biographies are like puzzle pieces, together
with the background section on the Web site and the email Question and
Answers you will gain an understanding of the big picture of Aeronautics

Through this mailing list, you'll receive a series of Field Journals
which will describe in detail the work areas above. The format will
vary, and may include "what I did today" or "a problem I recently
solved" or a "problem I wish I could solve" or "my goals for the next
month." Regardless of the style, the stories should help you and your
students understand the diversity of skills and people needed for
Aeronautics Design and Research. Think of the journals as clues on how to
fit the puzzle pieces together. These Field Journals will be delivered via
this updates-aero mailing list about once per week.

This mailing list will also include information about the Aerospace Team
Online project. For example we'll begin hosting a series of live events
like Web chats with the Aerospace Team folks. Announcements about these
events and other similar opportunities will be shared via this mailing

In addition, curriculum supplements about aerodynamics will be available
to help teachers incorporate the lessons of aero design into their
classrooms. Student-to-student interactions will be facilitated through an
email debate about design competition entries. We hope a lively debate
will ensue about the various ideas and towards the end, real NASA experts
will share their thoughts about the suggested designs. Finally, an area on
the Web will be reserved to display student work relating to aerodynamics.
Stay tuned to this maillist and the Aerospace Team Online web site for
further information about these activities.

Throughout the Aerospace Team Online project, our team is interested
in receiving your ideas and feedback. Send any comments to

A solid group of people have helped to make Aerospace Team Online a
reality. We are grateful to our dedicated online teammates for their
contributions. Credit details can be found on the web, but for now
we'd like to especially acknowledge the following people:
NASA Ames Aeronautics Directorate: George and Leslie
Ames Research Center : Liza, Tom, Herb, Jeff,  all the team members,
Keith, Chris  and Ernest.

We hope that this will prove to be an exciting learning resource for
you and your students. We think it will be a great ride. So fasten your
seat belts. Aerospace Team Online has been cleared for take off!

Susan Lee
NASA K-12 Internet Initiative


A series of online chats with NASA experts is being planned. These
chats will let students connect live with interesting aeronautics design

To chat, we'll be using a system called Web chat which lets you type
brief thoughts while others are doing the same thing. To participate,
you need only have access to a modern web browser (like Netscape or
Internet Explorer).

Our first Web chat with NASA expert Chris Sweeney is scheduled for
November 11 from 10:30-11:30 a.m. Pacific. Chris is a flight simulation
engineer at the Vertical Motion Simulator at Ames Research Center. He says
"It's like playing a giant video game with real aircraft and you get to
program what can happen."

If you plan to chat, you must register for the event. Sign up now by
filling out the form from the link at
This registration is very important, since it will allow us to ensure that
the chat room does not become too crowded.

For more details, and for the future schedule, please visit:

[Editor's note: Chris is a flight simulation engineer at the Vertical Motion Simulator (VMS) at Ames Research Center. It is the world's largest motion simulator. Chris programs the simulations and then tests them to make sure they work.]

by Chris Sweeney


October 17, 1997

My job involves putting different pieces of an aircraft together on a
computer. If we are working with an aircraft that has not been simulated
at the Vertical Motion Simulator (VMS), a brand new architecture, we
receive a mathematical description of the model. This includes an
aerodynamic database from wind tunnel tests, block diagrams describing the
flight control system, equations describing the guidance and navigation
system of the aircraft, and models of whatever means of propulsion the
aircraft has, an engine for an airplane, or a rotor in the case of a

We take all the information and write, in FORTRAN computer language, the
software code to describe the aircraft, flight controls, guidance system,
navigation systems, and propulsion system. We reformat the aerodynamic
data to read out during the real-time simulation. We check the correctness
of each separate system first, then integrate the code of all the systems
for the aircraft. We do a full closed-loop test of the entire aircraft to
make sure the computer model works the way the real aircraft or the
potential aircraft is designed to work. This part of the project can take
6-8 months for a new aircraft and 2-3 months for an aircraft we have
already simulated.

Next, we integrate the model into the lab and the cab, the VMS "cockpit"
or flight deck, of our aircraft making sure the controls the pilot will
use work correctly in our model, so when the pilot moves the stick, the
aircraft responds correctly. We make sure we have simulated the sound the
pilots would hear and the out-the-window scene the pilots would see if
they were looking into the real world. We check the displays the pilot
looks at in the flight deck and the Head Up Display (HUD) if the aircraft
has one. When all of these parts of the simulation have been integrated,
we run some more flight checks, then the pilots come in and fly. They
check the model to ensure it represents the real aircraft, and then for
six weeks we run the simulation itself.

Pilots and researchers come and fly various tasks depending on the
research goals for the project, and we collect data for the researchers to
analyze. Post simulation documentation is the next step. This includes
report writing and collecting all the pertinent information on how and why
we did certain things in the model. This documentation fills a couple of
binders and is available in case the same aircraft needs to be simulated
again. Another flight simulation engineer can then reuse the applicable
parts of the model.


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