Integrated Simulation Milestone In Return To Flight
Training for the Space Shuttle's return to flight entered a new
phase this month as the astronauts and Mission Control began
full-scale rehearsals that will continue until days before
A web of computer and voice communication connections brings
together dozens of flight controllers, the astronauts who will fly
the Shuttle, support engineers and training instructors to simulate
key portions of the next mission. The training is complex, with
planners inserting multiple problems during each practice session
and gauging the performance of the team as it addresses them.
This first eight-hour "flight-specific integrated simulation"
focuses on the Space Shuttle Discovery's rendezvous and docking
with the International Space Station. The simulation includes
practicing a new flip, a rendezvous pitch maneuver, that the Space
Shuttle performs as it approaches to allow Station crew members to
photograph the Shuttle's heat shielding tiles to check their
"This is where we stop just brainstorming and thinking about how
we're going to go fly this flight in space," said Lead Flight
Director Paul Hill. "This will look and feel to us just like a real
flight -- even to the astronauts. Once the clock starts ticking in
the simulation, we get the same adrenalin when something bad starts
to happen, we get the same rush when we solve a problem that keeps
the crew out of danger, as we would during the real thing," he
As these dress rehearsals continue, the team will practice every
aspect of the flight. Some aspects, such as launch and landing,
will be rehearsed many times.
The crew of the return to flight mission will participate from
the fixed-base Shuttle simulator. The STS-114 crew includes
Commander Eileen Collins (above), Pilot Jim Kelly and Mission
Specialists Charlie Carmarda, Wendy Lawrence, Steve Robinson,
Soichi Noguchi and Andy Thomas. A stand-in Station crew will
participate from the nearby Space Station simulator.
"This integrated simulation is a huge milestone for the crew,"
Collins said. "The crew is ready to go, the flight control team is
ready to go, and we're especially looking forward to the rendezvous
pitch maneuver -- something that's never been done before," she
Flight controllers supporting both the Space Shuttle and Space
Station will work in the Mission Control Center. Hill will lead the
Shuttle contingent, while Flight Director Brian Lunney will lead
the Station team.