Here’s why NASA is intentionally crashing an airplane on a livestream

There's a really important reason for this test.


Lisa Granshaw

Internet Culture

Published Aug 24, 2015   Updated May 28, 2021, 2:41 am CDT

NASA plans to crash a plane on Wednesday to test improvements to the emergency locator transmitters that help search-and-rescue teams locate crash victims.

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The space agency said Monday that it would crash a Cessna 172 by dropping it from a height of 100 feet to simulate a survivable but severe plane crash and learn how the ELTs respond. The test will be streamed live on a NASA Ustream channel between 1pm and 2pm ET.

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NASA’s Search and Rescue Mission Office will conduct the test at the agency’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. The plane will be carrying five ELTs, two human-sized dummies, and a host of data-collecting sensors. NASA hopes to use data from the crash to improve the performance and robustness of its ELTs.

Wednesday’s test will be the third and final in a series; the first two were conducted in July.

Photo via David C. Bowman/NASA (PD)

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*First Published: Aug 24, 2015, 5:10 pm CDT