Spent thirty minutes today shooting landings in the space shuttle... a perk of having an in at NASA I guess!
The vertical motion simulator at NASA Ames is used for testing and simulation. With an interchangeable cab, the VMS can suit many different simulation and training needs; moon landers, the space shuttle, helicopters, and standard aircraft cabs can be switched out as needed for the various engineering and training tasks that NASA carries out on a day to day basis. Most recently the VMS was outfitted with the space shuttle cab for use in astronaut training, which was completed a few weeks ago.
As the cab is ready to be switched out for another test in a week or so, I was given the chance to come in and fly the cab in a series of demos that illustrated its capabilities. Set up as a landing simulation, I was able to bring the space shuttle in under various conditions including cloud cover, high cross winds, a night landing, and one with a wheel blow out. The cab is outfitted with actual space shuttle control sticks and other various parts that are needed for the landing simulations, the VMS, being a full motion simulator, can giver accurate feedback to the pilots and provide a compelling simulation for someone like me, who will never get the chance to fly the real thing. After the jump you'll find a few pics and two videos, one of my first landing, the second of what the cab looks like from the outside as it is underway. Thanks to the techs and engineers at NASA who made this possible. You can check out more on the VMS here.