A week in Houston to do some flying gave me a chance to visit JSC for a few hours. In addition to catching up with many of the latest generation of Flight Directors (I was lucky – there were a fair number in the office this day – an unusual occurrence with so much going on in space operations) and visiting with a few friends from other organizations, I stopped to spend a few moments with one of the old Shuttle Single System Trainers (SST’s). This cockpit trainer gave us the opportunity to learn to operate the various individual spacecraft systems, work through normal and malfunction procedures, and get ready for full up simulations in the big Shuttle Mission Simulator (SMS) where everything worked together. The two SST’s were preserved as non-functional displays, one in the lobby of the Mission Control Center, and one in the lobby of Building 4, traditional home of the Systems Flight Controllers, Trainers, and the Astronauts – as well as the Fight Director Office.
If someone would just hand me an Entry Checklist, I’m sure we could get the DPS, OMS, and RCS set up for a De-Orbit burn – and heck, I could probably remember how to get the APU’s running as well. Some things are hard to forget.
I came to learn to fly a different airplane (one much less complex than this), but it’s good to know that I can still find my way around the flight deck of the world’s first winged, re-usable, orbital spacecraft.