Just call it NASA’s greatest hits. Apparently everyone so enjoyed watching NASA crash an airplane into the ground last month that the folks at NASA Langley decided to put together an incredible clip showing some of the amazing crash and splash tests that the agency has performed over the years. (NASA likes to crash stuff on other planets too. We think they might have a problem.)
The tests took place at the Landing Impact and Research Facility, which was built in 1965 as the Lunar Landing Research Facility, designed to help test designs for the lunar lander. The centerpiece of the facility is a massive steel gantry, which NASA describes as resembling “a giant steel erector set”. The structure is 240 feet tall and 400 feet long, large enough to hoist spacecraft as well as aircraft, which they then crash on purpose. The facility can lift things up to 64,000 pounds, and send them crashing into soil, concrete or water at 70 miles per hour.
The crashes aren’t just fun to watch. Like other crash tests, the spectacular destruction serves a purpose, helping to test safety features such as emergency transmitters, structural integrity, and integral systems such as fuel lines.
None of the tests had people on board, but there were some familiar faces hanging around…
Watch the full crash-test video here: