At NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, located on Edwards Air Force Base
in California’s Mojave Desert, a modified van is used to test equipment –
and astronauts – to develop a landing system for a windowless Crew Return
Vehicle that might one day serve as an outer-space lifeboat, attached to the
International Space Station. The Crew Return Vehicle looks like a
spacecraft; the van looks like – a van.

Nicknamed the Vomit Van because its crew accommodations have occasionally
been known to induce motion sickness, the terrestrial research vehicle
allows astronauts to recline as they would in the Crew Return Vehicle, while
they view video monitors to perform or simulate landing chores with NASA’s
X-38 research craft, a prototype of the CRV that is released from a B-52
mother ship high overhead.

NASA’s Johnson Space Center is in charge of the X-38/CRV program. Flight and
ground testing takes place at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center where the
expanse of Rogers Dry Lakebed affords a unique testing ground. More
information about NASA Dryden Flight Research Center and the X-38/CRV
program is available at Dryden’s web site at where the
Gallery section includes high-resolution X-38 images suitable for print.

For more information about NASA Dryden’s participation in the X-38 program,
call public affairs specialist Leslie Williams at (661) 276-3893.