I noticed that the majority of the toggle switches in the Mercury capsules move in a left-to-right manner.

This seems unusual to me, since Gemini, Apollo and the Shuttle all predominantly use up-down switches, and even a quick google of civilian and some military aircraft control panels show very few side-to-side switches.

Does anyone know the reasoning behind this design decision in the Mercury capsules?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The mercury capsule was extremely cramped, it may be a side to side motion made more sense with the orientation of the astronaut's arms. $\endgroup$ – GdD May 22 at 12:56
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @DrSheldon I believe the term Gusmobile was used on Gemini. Astronauts have been involved in the design of all the spacecraft. They generally tended to prefer aviation norms, even insisted on it in some cases, since they were test pilots before astronauts, so the side-to-side switch placement on just Mercury seems highly unusual to me. Even the X-15 had vertical switches $\endgroup$ – Innovine May 22 at 12:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ In this picture of Shepard's control panel, the switches on the left are vertical, and the switches on the center (except for one) and right are horizontal. ???? Now I'm more puzzled. Good question. airandspace.si.edu/sites/default/files/styles/slideshow_xlg/… $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble May 22 at 13:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ BTW, to the best of my knowledge, there was one (1) horizontal switch in the shuttle. It selected between the port and starboard robot arms (the starboard one was never flown). So if you flipped it to STBD, all it did was confuse the flight controllers. Its layout made sense because you switched it to the side where the arm you wanted to work with was mounted. Here's a picture of the switch from a simulator: imgur.com/a/m6jpbin $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble May 23 at 22:18
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yes, they were looking out the aft windows flying the robot arm over the payload bay. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Aug 31 at 12:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.