Technical Interchange Meeting with past HST astronauts

In November 2004, we travelled to the Johnson Space Center to meet with astronauts that have visited the HST on servicing
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):
John Grunsfeld, Mike Massimino, Chris Hadfield, Rick Linnehan, Steve Hawley,
Bruce McCandless, and Kathy Thornton were 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 tie.

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 landing facility at the Kennedy
Space Center.  I was able to successfully land the Shuttle 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.

Return to Launch Site
Image from Popular Mechanics website on the RTLS maneuver that I had to execute in the Shuttle Simulator. 
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 Shuttle.

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 Flight Deck.  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.
URL 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 and surrounds
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 Shuttle.

In addition to simulators like these, the astronauts also train in the Virtual Reality
Lab.  This is where a subject puts on a pair of display glasses that have small
graphical display screens.  Hardware tracks the motion of the subject's head
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 around
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.

Other missions

To HST robotic mission

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