NAMRU-D releases the Kraken

  • Published
  • By Bryan Ripple
  • 88th ABW Public Affairs
The Naval Medical Research Unit Dayton held a ribbon cutting ceremony June 17 for its new Captain Ashton Graybiel Acceleration Research Facility and christened a $19 million GL-6000 Disorientation Research Device known as the Kraken. The device was designed and built by Environmental Tectonics Corporation.

"At 245,000 pounds, 4,500 horsepower, simultaneous motion on six axis, sustained planetary motion of 3G, and horizontal travel to 16 ½ feet, the Kraken will allow researchers to create the most realistic motion simulations never before imagined - except by perhaps one person - the pioneering physician, Navy Capt. Ashton Graybiel, who dared to imagine the physiologic impacts of motion and acceleration on the human body, said Navy Capt. Rees Lee, NMRU-D commanding officer.

Graybiel's research team, based at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, developed state-of-the-art acceleration research devices and procedures, completing landmark studies on the effects of weightlessness and acceleration on human balance, spatial orientation, physiology and performance. His team's research provided the vital physiology knowledge so important to the success of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space programs, Lee told the audience gathered to witness the event.

"When in October 2010, the Navy moved its aeromedical research arm from Pensacola to Wright-Patterson as part of the Base Realignment and Closure initiative, it brought together Air Force and Navy scientists with long histories of ground-breaking and innovative aeromedical research to work side-by-side, establishing the potential to create the world's most advanced and capable aeromedical research center in the world. Over the last six years we have been working to realize that potential. Today, with the activation of the Kraken Disorientation Research Device, and the establishment of the Captain Ashton Graybiel Acceleration Research Facility, we take another giant step to realizing that potential," Lee said.

Lee told the audience that "While we recognize the tremendous challenges overcome and the feats of engineering and cunning required to create the marvel that is the Kraken, we also acknowledge that it is the natural realization of Capt. Graybiel's vision. For the first time in the history of aerospace medicine, fully realistic motion simulations can be created which allow the exhaustive research necessary for a comprehensive understanding of spatial disorientation and other motion and acceleration-based phenomenon," said Lee.

Lee said that one Air Force report estimated that motion related mishaps have cost the Air Force $2 billion in lost aircraft. "But more important are the lost lives. It is my firm conviction that together with our Air Force and Army aeromedical research colleagues, the research findings coming from this facility will save lives."

"The accidents they are going to prevent with their research from the Kraken and the lives they're going to save and the systems that we're going to have to improve performance in our airplanes, is untold," said RDML John Haley, Commander, Naval Force Atlantic.

Now that the Kraken has been released, the staff at NMRU-D is ready to do just that.

"The DRD, together with the human centrifuge and hyperbaric chamber at the 711th Human Performance Wing will set Wright-Patterson as the center of acceleration research in the nation," said Lee.