Elaine Dickinson: "There's no reason to become alarmed, and we hope you'll enjoy the rest of your flight. By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?"
This past weekend I had a rare opportunity to pilot the space shuttle simulator in the NASA vertical motion simulator at the Ames Research facility at Moffett Field
I was expecting to pilot one of those motion simulators that you see on TV, but what they had was way cooler… It was one of those simulators mounted on track 40’ wide and on a pistons 75’ tall. This thing was designed to MOVE! Picture something the size of your living room that can pitch and yaw, and move 40’ side to side and six stories up and down…
The simulator was designed to have interchangeable cabs, so while one is simulating a B2, another can be prepped for and SR71.
This time it was set up in the Space Shuttle configuration. I got to try out landing the thing 7 different landing sites, form SoCal, to Florida, to Madrid, and France. They could also change the landing conditions to include fog, wind and night landings.
How did I do? Well the first landing the computer kicked me out of the simulation. Not good. Luckily this wasn’t real life. I was able to land every other time except one – they gave me a strong side wind, and the first time I attempted it I couldn’t get used to the plane “Crabbing” in- coming in straight in approach, but pointed in another direction. I felt like I was skidding on highway ice. I also had a couple of blown tires, but managed to stay on the runway.
All in all – Totally fun! And thanks Tom, I know I married into the right family!
This is a scale model of the VMS. Imagine the red and white box in the center is the size of yoru living room.
Here's me and my co-pilot Duke, without whom I would have *never* made it down alive...
...I hear next time they are rigging the simulator in lunar lander configuration for mission in 2017 – I’d love to try that one out!