Children arriving at the space-station-themed Xerts restaurant in Sydney’s Darling Harbour experience an authentic ‘docking’ event, courtesy of realistic simulation enhanced by air springs. The ‘space shuttle’ foyer which conveys people from the entranceway into the restaurant can move and sway before apparently locking on to the space station and disgorging its “passengers.”

Slick Systems of NSW designed and built the foyer floor that gives the feeling of a space arrival. Four underfloor inflatable bellows-type air springs, powered by a compressor and a programmable logic controller (PLC) provide the desired ride qualities.

“The floor cycles up and down in time with rocket engine noises and a wall-sized video of the space shuttle’s approach. The floor then clunks down onto stocks, followed by a hiss of released air and the opening of the door into the restaurant,” says Ian Messner, Slick Systems’ principal. “I designed the structural aspects and Air Springs Supply of Sydney provided the air springs. I told them the mass I would be supporting – plus the likely deflection and oscillation required – and they suggested a Style 116 actuator. At first this looked small, but I was astounded by how much get-up-and-go it had.

“The air springs were a joy to work with. They have no mechanical moving parts, no grease, no fuss and don’t require a complex supporting framework. They should continue to operate very reliably for many years.”

Source: Building Products News.