Monday, May 23, 2016

NASA astronauts take Boeing spacecraft simulator for test drive

NASA astronauts take Boeing spacecraft simulator for test drive
Commercial Crew Program – Astronaut Training – in St Louis.
With both the SpaceX Dragon and Starliner modules just a few years from their maiden launches, NASA has already started training the crews that will operate them.
NASA has a new pair of training simulators courtesy of Boeing. They’re designed to train astronauts on how to control the space agency’s next-generation spacecrafts. A pair of crew astronauts, Williams and Boe, tried out the simulators. NASA said that they offer realistic simulations of the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft. Astronauts will also be training for the SpaceX Dragon Crew for future International Space Station runs.
The training simulators are located in St. Louis at a Boeing facility.
These simulators are touch screen. Williams said that multiple simulations can be run by just changing software. Afterward, we put that same software into a bigger crew simulator, which will be used to train the whole crew for a spaceflight.
“The simulations are important for the flight tests, because this is the place to put it all together,” Boe added.
Astronauts will initially train individually on the simulators. They will learn how to operate the capsule under a variety of nominal and emergency situations that could arise on a trip to the ISS. The simulators are going to be shipped to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston later this year. Once these are wired into both the Boeing and NASA networks, astronauts will be able to interact with each other as well as mission and launch control to get the fullest training experience.
The astronauts and flight instructors have been coming to Boeing in St. Louis over the past six months to help refine the simulators for their use in training crews to fly the CST-100 Starliner.
Williams explained
  • “It is nice for us to bring our experience and expectations into discussions about how the cockpit is going to be laid out.
  • How the vehicle is going to fly manually.
  • Our understanding of the new spacecraft.”
“If you think of Mars as the pinnacle of Everest (and) low-Earth orbit as base camp, the commercial companies that service low-Earth orbit are the sherpas that take things back and forth. It enables NASA to go and perform their exploration mission.
Hopefully in July, early August, we’ll have a great closed-loop training system for astronauts and flight controllers. This will be the first step towards getting back into low Earth orbit and servicing the International Space Station,” stated Ferguson, deputy program manager and director of crew and mission operations for Boeing’s commercial crew program.
The training will give the astronauts an opportunity to experience possible issues and other situations safely in a controlled environment.

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