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UND to build spacecraft simulator

UND will build a new spacecraft simulator with the help of Cirrus Design Corp., which has a plant in Grand Forks, the university said Monday. The simulator would replicate the experience of flying the space shuttle, an X-15 rocket plane or SpaceS...

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UND will build a new spacecraft simulator with the help of Cirrus Design Corp., which has a plant in Grand Forks, the university said Monday.

The simulator would replicate the experience of flying the space shuttle, an X-15 rocket plane or SpaceShipOne, the world's first privately developed reusable manned spacecraft.

Students will be working with Cirrus professionals on the design, meant to look like SpaceShipOne.

Cirrus' local plant creates components for the company's line of small aircraft. The company is based in Duluth.

UND will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the plant to offer more details.

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"The project has allowed both Cirrus and UND an opportunity to showcase our respective talents," said Tom Haggy, Cirrus' director of operations in Grand Forks.

Pablo de Leon, UND's principal investigator on the project, said it would pave the way for the university to train crew members for private spacecraft.

The bulk of all manned space flights have been national efforts but some observers see spacecraft such as SpaceShipOne as heralds of a new era of commercial flights.

The North Dakota Space Grant Consortium funded the project. UND's John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences will operate the simulator.

Students involved in the project include Emily Chwialkowski, a space studies graduate student, and Luke Sandbeck-Moriarty and Tyler Jacobson, both undergraduate engineering students.

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