DLR - Short-Arm Human Centrifuge (SAHC)

Centrifuge with lying test person

With the new Short-Arm Human Centrifuge (SAHC) in Cologne –provided by the ESA– artificial gravity will be created to afford fundamental research in medicine and human physiology. The main focus is on the possibility to extend e.g. bed-rest studies to test methods of artificial gravity based countermeasures for medical risks due to weightlessness.

Technical data

(According to the manufacturer´s specification: VERHAERT SPACE, Belgium)

Max. rotor radius 2.82 m
Max. radial acceleration on a test person (at foot level) ~ 5 g
Min. radial acceleration on a test person (at foot level) 0.1 g
Max. G-onset and offset (at foot level) ~ 0,4 g/s
Max. rpm on centrifuge axis (software limit) 45 rpm
Min. rpm on centrifuge axis 5.7 rpm
Number and types of nacelles (test person accommodations) 2 beds
 2 seats
Max. payload mass
(up to 4 test subjects + scientific equipment)
550 kg

Scientific applications

  • Development of effective countermeasures for neuromuscular and skeletal degeneration of astronauts using Artificial Gravity
  • Testing of orthostatic & neurovestibular tolerance of pilots, astronauts and other relevant (professional) groups
  • Research on e.g. osteoporosis, muscle atrophy
  • Neurovestibular and cardiovascular research
  • Development of rehabilitation measures (orthopaedy)
  • SAHC as an instrument for clinical/ pharmacological studies
  • Hypergravity studies of cellular and biological samples, demanding larger experimental platforms

Measuring instruments

Medical device
  • blood pressure
  • electrocardiography
  • aeroplethysmography
  • electromyography
  • eye tracking
  • force dynamics
  • audio and video signals
  • oxygen saturation
  • electroencephalography
  • etc.

Further information

Inclined bed nacelle

The nacelles can easily be adjusted (without use of tools) to accommodate persons safely and comfortably of all sizes (between 10 percentile Japanese female and 90 per­centile Caucasian male). Test persons can sit (seat), lie down flat supine or in "su­pine seated" position (bed). The rotor is specially designed to transfer test persons from hospital beds and trolleys (for bed rest studies).

It is planned to amplify some additional equipment (e.g. sleigh for hopping and squatting, bicycle ergometer, vibration platform) so that it will be possible to in­tegrate different exercise protocols.

After being loaded with the test persons, the nacelles can easily be positioned in different settings with integrated mechanisms (no tools) so that acceleration gradients can be personalised.

  • translation along the arm over a range of 400mm
  • rotation in a vertical plane (range from -10° to +90° (seat) or +45° (bed))

The nacelles have local "dark environments" to eliminate external visual stimuli (in order to avoid motion sickness). These (removable) dark environments provide also following features:

  • Digital face surveillance camera
  • Bi-directional audio link (headphones & microphone) with the control room
  • Internal illumination with LEDs (Visual and IR light)
  • Mini -TFT screen for non verbal communication or distraction (e.g. DVD)
Control Station

A state-of-the-art control station (touch screen, MS Windows XP PC, LCD flat screens) provides easy control and monitoring. It even allows the operator and scientists to run automated sequences and automatically combine motor parameters with scientific results, even from remote computers (LAN, Ethernet and Internet).

The centrifuge rotor standard provides medical health monitoring, including heart rate, 5-lead ECG, non invasive blood pressure, respiratory indices, O2 saturation, etc. It furthermore has all provisions for experiment specific (co-rotating) scientific equipment, such as 230V AC power (8 outlets) and Ethernet (7 outlets). It carries standard 2 silica disk PC's with DVD players and 2 Ethernet routers (200 Mbit direct connections with the control room via 7 IP sockets).

The complete system is safeguarded with a certified Class III safety system (5 hardwired Emergency Stops + Safety PLC, 100% redundant motor speed control, etc.) All safety features, such as medical monitoring, standard operating safety procedures, surveillance cameras, emergency stop buttons, centrifuge room access door interlocks, etc. are an integral part of the installation.

For questions or detailed information please contact:

Dr. Sven Baerwalde
Team Leader “Operational Study Management”

German Aerospace Center
Institute of Aerospace Medicine
Biomedical Science Support Center (ME-BC)
Linder Hoehe
51147 Koeln
email: sven.baerwalde@dlr.de
Tel. +49 2203 - 601 3130

Last update: 23 January 2012

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