Friday, February 4, 2011


Astro-NOTS Emblem
No astronauts available for Shuttle simulator testing? Hey, just catch a flight controller by the toe! They can use anyone who fits the suit and knows the drill (although, those two requirements aren't as simple as they sound)...

You may remember Liz Warren from my past post about folks who work in the Mission Control Center (MCC) in Houston, and she was also recently featured on the NASA Education site by my old friend The Other Heather. Sometimes we all just link in circles!

Scientist Liz WarrenThe team that straps the astronauts into the Space Shuttle prior to launch are called "The Closeout Crew", and they undergo training sessions at Johnson Space Center in the Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility, just like the astronauts.

Liz recently joined them in the SVMF for Closeout Crew Training, where she suited up to be strapped into one of the Shuttle Orbiter mock-ups -- most specifically, the CCT or Crew Compartment Trainer... that would be the one pointed skyward for these exercises.

NASA Spacesuits
Have you ever laid your clothes out on the bed the night before you wear them? It must be great to be an astronaut and have a suit specialist do it for you -- because truly, just getting into a space suit and wearing it all day is enough hard work for one body.

That's CDR Spasmunkey to you!
Wouldn't we all love to sit in this chair for a drill! I'd sure try it, any day. Ingress, pretty easy... and as for Egress? "You basically pretend like you are incapacitated and they drag you out of the orbiter." Sounds fun. And check out who else showed up for Astro-NOT duty one day:

Stephen ColbertSpecial thanks to Flight Controllers Sarah Saroy, Liz Warren and astronaut trainer Michael Grabois (in that order through the post!) for these great images. Is it possible to have too much fun?!


Kevin H said...

I so want a space suit. I would probably sleep in it for the first few nights. Then I would hang it on my ceiling so that I may have other worldly dreams.

Michael said...

Actually, in that last photo, Stephen Colbert was wearing a pumpkin suit that he bought at the Space Center Houston gift shop! He wanted to look as authentic as possible (but I guess not quite as authentic as Liz at the top).

For the Astro-Nots - who are not suited, by the way - there's a large pool of instructors, flight controllers, and even flight directors (maybe 30 people in all) who are called in for simulation duty when there aren't enough real astronauts to support a sim. Who gets called up depends on what they're doing in the sim, like if they're going to rendezvous with the ISS or if there's a certification sim in MCC for a particular controller then they'll need people familiar with those techniques and procedures. There's a much smaller group of people for the ascent/entry sims, two full "crews" ready to go and one currently in training.

PillowNaut said...

Oh thank you, Michael! So glad you checked in to provide the details =)

I love this stuff. The fact that Colbert showed up at all is priceless. And if you'd ever like to be interviewed for a full blog post about what your work days are like, I know everyone would really enjoy that...