Astronauts at NASA are practicing future flights into outer space on simulators here on earth.
NASA’s astronauts Suni Williams and Eric Boe have been manipulating a series of simulators. These simulators are meant to help them in their training regimens.
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Ultimately, they will use this training to go into deep space on the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft. Before this in time, NASA’s Gemini and Mercury spacecraft had astronauts train on simulators prior to the mission.
Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley were two other astronauts that also trained on simulators for the later missions aboard the Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon to the ISS.
Currently all four of the astronauts are rehearsing for the actual trips on the simulators. These simulators are based on cloud-based systems and are very hands-on.
Later on these simulators will be whisked away to the Johnson Space Center in Houston where the astronauts will use them in their daily tasks and thus polish up their space flight skills even more so.
Everything from standard run-of-the-mill journeys to emergency situations will be simulated on these special machines. The astronauts will spend hours training with these simulators.
The simulators have touchscreen displays. They are thus much more advanced than previous models which were very primitive and rudimentary to begin with.
A number of scenarios can be practiced on these VR machines. All that is needed is a change of software. In the future, a simulator the size of the Starliner will be employed to train astronauts.
The training of astronauts is a very meticulous process that requires the utmost of rigorous protocol. What better method of making these astronauts mentally tough and cognitively sharp than via the employment of simulators.
Most astronauts consider the simulator experience as awesome and exhilarating. They want to keep on doing it.
“A considerable part of what we do here in St. Louis has been centered around developing trainers,” said Pete Meisinger, Program Manager for Boeing’s Space Vehicle Training Program.
“After three years of working with Boeing experts in Houston and Florida, and with our NASA teammates, we are at a point where we are actually training astronauts. Bringing that expertise and melding it into these trainers has been an honor and an extraordinarily cool experience.”
"The simulations are important for the flight tests, because this is the place to put it all together,” said Boe.
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“Think of the part-task trainer as our training wheels. As we get more familiar with the systems, the training wheels will come off and we will start advancing to the next systems. Eventually, we will work with another crew member, then with the whole flight control team.”