CREW TRAINING GROUND FACILITIES AND THE SPACE SHUTTLE’s RETIREMENT

The committee’s second task was to address the agency’s ground training facilities. As NASA, the FCOD, and the Astronaut Office enter the post-shuttle era, astronaut training will be exclusively devoted to International Space Station missions. Throughout the era of the shuttle, NASA has possessed a vast ground infrastructure to support shuttle processing and on-orbit operations. In particular, the Johnson Space Center possessed many shuttle-related training facilities. They included the large mock-ups that bear a resemblance to the orbiters and are visible to public tours of the space center but also numerous other facilities and pieces of equipment, such as the Shuttle Mission Training Facility’s Guidance and Navigation Simulator. As this report was being written, NASA was in the process of decommissioning many of its simulators and trainers; most will be donated to museums or universities. See Table 3.1 for the disposition of the various NASA-operated shuttle ground facilities and trainers.

In addition, as this report was being written, the committee was informed that NASA had been contacted by potential commercial crew providers about leasing portions of some NASA facilities, such as the large Building 9 facility at Johnson Space Center, for commercial crew training, and having NASA astronauts aid in curriculum and simulator development. The discussions were still in a preliminary stage, and the committee had little information about them.

TABLE 3.1 Disposition of NASA’s Shuttle Ground Training Facilities

Facility Status Post-Shuttle Final Location
Shuttle Mission Training Facility (SMTF) fixed base Decommission Adler Planetarium
SMTF motion base Decommission Texas A&M University
SMTF Guidance and Navigation Simulator Decommission Wings of Dreams Aviation Museum
Single System Trainers (3) Decommission 1 to Texas A&M University
2 as static displays at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Dynamic System Trainers Remain operational; support International Space Station (ISS) robotics and VV rendezvous training
Payload Trainer Decommission NASA JSC
Network Simulation System Decommission NASA JSC
Shuttle Engineering Simulator Dome Decommission (committee recommends evaluating need) NASA JSC
Space Station Training Facility Remains operational; supports ISS training
Space Station Mockup Training Facility Part Task Trainer Remains operational; supports ISS training Remains operational; supports ISS training
Full Fuselage Trainer Decommission Seattle Museum of Flight
Crew Compartment Trainer (2) Decommission 1 to Air Force Museum
1 to Smithsonian Institution
Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory Remains operational; supports ISS training


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