Tag Archives: Full Fuselage Trainer

NASA administrator tours shuttle trainer exhibit at Museum of Flight

NASA Adminstrator Charles Bolden says Seattle’s Museum of Flight scored big when it landed the space agency’s Space Shuttle Full Fuselage Trainer (FFT) for permanent exhibit.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in front of the Space Shuttle Full Fuselage Trainer at the Museum of Flight in Seattle Jan. 15, 2013. Photo: NASA/Carla Cioffi.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in front of the Space Shuttle Full Fuselage Trainer at the Museum of Flight in Seattle Jan. 15, 2013. Bolden flew four shuttle missions and trained in the FFT, as did all shuttle astronauts. Photo: NASA/Carla Cioffi.

“I think the Museum of Flight won the prize when it comes to education,” Bolden said during a tour of the exhibit this week at the museum’s Charles Simonyi Space Gallery. “No other place with an orbiter can do what is done here. No other place can have somebody essentially walk in the same footsteps that John Glenn, John Young, other people walked when they go through the payload bay or they go up on the flight deck or the mid-deck. That’s actually where we trained.”

When NASA announced at the end of the shuttle program that it would award the retired orbiters to museums around the country, it set off an intense competition between some two dozen institutions that all wanted one of the prized artifacts. The Museum of Flight went all-in and built the $12 million, 15,500 square-foot space gallery with no guarantee that it would receive a shuttle. When Bolden announced two years ago that the shuttles would go elsewhere, Museum of Flight President and CEO Doug King recognized that being able to go into the FFT would be a great draw for visitors. Sure enough, it’s been very busy since the exhibit opened in November.

Charlie Bolden

NASA administrator Charles Bolden speaks to reporters at the Museum of Flight Jan. 15, 2013. Photo: Greg Scheiderer.

“It’s been huge,” King said. “We had record attendance all through the holidays and on into this year.” He added that a special education program, though which a small number of visitors actually visit the crew cabin, has sold out every weekend.

The exhibit is truly impressive. For one thing, the FFT is gigantic. I attended several events in the space gallery before the trainer arrived, and the room is enormous. The FFT virtually fills it. The gallery includes a half-scale model of the Hubble Space Telescope, perhaps the most famous payload ever carried by a shuttle, and a mockup of the Boeing-built Inertial Upper Stage that was used to launch satellites into space from the shuttle. There’s also a Soyuz capsule, a Charon Test Vehicle from Blue Origin, and information about many of the commercial spaceflight efforts in the works. These may well be the source for future additions to the exhibit; King already has his eye on one of the Dragon vehicles being flown by SpaceX, and envisions an “arrivals” board for the gallery that identifies what is flying in next. Bolden added that exhibits about the commercial space ventures are important to inspire kids who are the next generation of engineers, space adventurers, and dreamers.

King says he expects the museums with the flown orbiters also will create fantastic exhibits.

Charles Bolden

NASA administrator Charles Bolden emerges from the hatch of the Space Shuttle Full Fuselage Trainer, now on exhibit at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, during a tour Jan. 15, 2013. Every shuttle astronaut used that hatch and trained in the FFT. Photo: NASA/Carla Cioffi.

“The one in Los Angeles already looks great, and the building they’re eventually going to put it in will be spectacular,” he said. “We’ll encourage everybody to go see it, then come here and go inside.”

Bolden flew on four shuttle missions and spent countless hours training in the FFT, so for him the museum’s exhibit brings on fond memories, and some painful ones. He joked about using the trainer to practice emergency escapes from the shuttle, and said every astronaut had just one thought in mind during the exercises.

“Do not fall off the rope. You don’t want to look bad,” he laughed, noting that there were always cameras recording the training. “You did not want to be memorialized as one who slipped and fell and looked like an idiot laying down there on the mat.”

The FFT is a most interesting exhibit. Go walk in the footsteps of the astronauts and check it out at the Museum of Flight. Watch the slideshow below for a preview, and for more scenes from Bolden’s visit!


ShuttleFest to celebrate arrival of crew section of shuttle trainer

Can that thing really fly? The NASA "Super Guppy" cargo plane will deliver the crew cabin of the space shuttle full fuselage trainer to the Museum of Flight in Seattle June 30, and will remain on display at the museum over the weekend. Photo: NASA.

The Museum of Flight is throwing a week-long shindig to celebrate the delivery of the main attraction of its new Charles Simonyi Space Gallery. The 28-foot-long crew cabin section of the space shuttle full-fuselage trainer, the museum’s take from the end of the shuttle program, will be delivered June 30 aboard NASA’s “Super Guppy” cargo plane.

The Super Guppy will be piloted by astronaut and West Seattle native Greg Johnson, who will bring it in over Lake Washington and the Seattle Center before landing at Boeing Field at about 11 a.m. June 30. The plane and its cargo will be welcomed at a special ceremony by museum brass, local politicos, former astronauts, the Sounders band, and TV personality Steve Pool, who will be the Master of Cermonies for the event.

The Super Guppy will remain at the museum for the weekend, open for tours on Sunday, July 1, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Johnson will give a talk about the astronaut biz that day at 2 p.m.

The space shuttle crew cabin is being separated from the fuselage at NASA Johnson Space Center before its delivery to The Museum of Flight. Photo: NASA.

ShuttleFest will include three book signings during the following week. Ted Huetter, public relations manager at the Museum of Flight, will autograph copies of his book, Edwards Air Force Base (Images of Aviation), July 2. Huetter was an aviation writer at the base during the 1990s. Sam Howe Verhovek will sign copies of his book Jet Age: The Comet, the 707, and the Race to Shrink the World July 3. Dr. Dean Hunter, author of For Love of Life and Country, will autograph his book July 6. All of the book signings will run from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the museum. Books are available at the museum store, or through the links above.

The week’s festivities conclude with a Boogie Woogie Hangar Dance at the museum Saturday, July 7 from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. The dance will feature the legendary Harry James Orchestra with the incomparable horn of Fred Radke and the captivating vocals of Gina Funes. Tickets are $25 for museum members, $30 for general public, and are available online.

Dedication of new space gallery to launch busy weekend at Museum of Flight

The Museum of Flight in Seattle will formally dedicate its new Charles Simonyi Space Gallery Thursday, kicking off a busy weekend of space- and astronomy-themed events.

Charles Simonyi

Who is that mystery man? Microsoft billionaire and space tourist Charles Simonyi reportedly donated $3 million of the $12 million cost of a new building at Seattle's Museum of Flight. He'll be on hand Thursday for the dedication of the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery. Photo: NASA.

The gallery was originally conceived and built with an eye toward landing one of NASA’s retiring space shuttles. However back in April NASA announced the shuttles would go to New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and the Kennedy Space Center near Orlando, Florida. The Museum of Flight instead will receive the Full-Fuselage Trainer in which all of the shuttle astronauts prepped for their missions. Ted Huetter, public relations and promotions manager for the museum, said there isn’t yet a firm time for delivery of the trainer, which is now in Houston, but that it would likely be some time in the spring. It will be the centerpiece of the new Simonyi Gallery.

The dedication hoopla will get under way at the museum at 11 a.m. Dec. 8.

Simonyi is a Microsoft billionaire who has a home in Medina. He has twice flown to the International Space Station as a space tourist. He reportedly donated $3 million of the $12 million cost of the gallery.

The gallery will open to the public Saturday with a temporary exhibit called “The Future of Spaceflight.” The exhibit will explore the developments taking place as the commercial spaceflight industry works to open up access to space. It also will include renderings of the upcoming permanent exhibit “Space Flight Academy,” featuring the Full-Fuselage Trainer, which is scheduled to open in June. On Saturday museum visitors who bring a donation of a non-perishable food item will receive half-price admission. The food drive will benefit Northwest Harvest.

All day Friday the museum will host a NASA Future Forum, featuring panel discussions on innovation, discovery, commercial partnerships, and education. A number of NASA officials will be on hand, as will representatives of Andrews Space, MEI Technologies, the X Prize Foundation, and Arkyd Astronautics. The mix represents the notion that the private sector is going to play a larger role in future space exploration.

There’s a bit of humor in an attempt create some mystery about the gallery opening. A news release sent to Seattle Astronomy today from a public relations firm working for the museum gushed that “a renowned space traveler” would be on hand Thursday, and that “this local man will make an additional surprise announcement.” The coyness about his identity comes despite the fact that both the Seattle Times and SeattlePI.com ran stories about the Simonyi Gallery on Monday, and an email sent to museum friends and members Tuesday bore the subject line “Future of Spaceflight Exhibit Opens 12/10 in Charles Simonyi Space Gallery.”

Check the Museum of Flight website for details of all the special space events happening this weekend.