In November 2004, we travelled to the
Johnson Space Center to meet with astronauts that have visited the HST
missions. We were interested in hearing first-hand about their
thoughts on our mission and how they would like to be involved.
We were joined by more than half a dozen past Hubble astronauts
including (facing camera, from left to right):
, Steve Hawley
, and Kathy
was on the phone.
Facing the crew was (left to right): Jim Corbo, Jill Holz,
Mike Weiss and Frank Cepollina.
The meetings were very productive, and we also met many of the people
at JSC that produce graphical and software simulators
that train the astronauts and prepare the team for the mission.
We toured the computer simulation and astronaut training facilities.
The first simulation facility we visited, was the so-called "forward
cockpit trainer". This is a simulation of the
front part where the commander and pilot sit to fly the Space
Shuttle. It is called the SES (Shuttle Engineering Simulator).
Here I stand outside the simulator. Behind me is visible the nose
of the simulated Space Shuttle.
The black objects are large display monitors that allow the astronaut
being trained to see the
same views as if he were inside the Space Shuttle. Note my Hubble
Here I am inside the simulator. Dr. Will Clement and I had the
opportunity to experience a launch and then
an emergency return to the launch site (RTLS
In this exercise, we are launched off the pad, and then
I had to take over the control stick and land the Space Shuttle at the
at the Kennedy Space Center. I was able to successfully land the
on the first try, a very thrilling experience. The view out of
the front windows
made you feel like you were gliding over the Florida landscape near KSC.
Image from Popular
website on the RTLS maneuver that I had to execute in the
The Shuttle has launched from
Florida, and needs to head back to KSC to land safely.
Another view of the commander's seat. Just like the real Shuttle,
all of the screens are
computer displays. The control stick is not centered, but angled
towards the right arm
as the astronauts are suited in stiff entry suits. Compare with this picture
of the real
When the Shuttle is not being actively flown, and when the astronauts
are doing their work in space,
they do not use the 'front' part of the Shuttle represented
above. Instead, they work on the opposite
side of the Space Shuttle, on the Aft
. This important part of the Shuttle is trained
in the facility below. From here, they can run the Shuttle robot
arm, and oversee the astronauts
doing space walks such as on the HST servicing missions.
for Shuttle facts.
The Aft Flight Deck simulator. Since there are windows facing back and
'up', the view is simulated
by projecting a large image on a dome that surrounds this
simulator. The dome is the
grey background. The whole simulator is on a pedestal, and
entering the simulator
is a very impressive experience as the dome surrounds you with a view
of what you would see if you were in space.
Example view when the dome is lit with a display. Note the robot
arm and the
view of the world going by. This image is from here
Side view of the simulator. The dome is about two stories tall
the aft flight deck simulator. I had the privilege of running a
simulation of the robot arm
grabbing Hubble and I was then able to successfully connect HST to the
In addition to simulators like these, the astronauts also train in the
. This is where a subject puts on a pair of display
that have small
graphical display screens. Hardware tracks the motion of the
so that the view is changed realistically in real-time.
I tried the system on, and was manuevered around the Shuttle bay
attached to the end of the robot arm. It felt like I was flying
the earth. The locations of my hands, torso and head were tracked,
so that I could handle tools and handrails on HST.
This is the setup in which I was placed with the virtual glasses.
I could see the
Hubble, the Shuttle and the earth go by. It felt very realistic.
Example of the view I was seeing with the glasses on.
This is the side of HST.
We left JSC with an appreciation of the capabilities that we would need
to build in order to train the operators of the HRSDM. These
demonstrations gave us many ideas of the simulators that need to be set
up at GSFC.