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In-flight exclusive: Astronaut soars with Seattle's space shuttle trainer
[i]NASA's Super Guppy aircraft flew a mock space shuttle crew cabin over much of California on Thursday (June 28), as the jumbo cargo plane continued on its three-day journey from Texas to deliver the astronaut trainer to a Seattle museum.
The 28 foot (8.5 meter) long, 16,000 pound (7,300 kilogram) space shuttle crew compartment — comprising the shuttle's iconic black and white nose section and its dual level flight- and mid-decks — is part of the Full Fuselage Trainer (FFT), a full-size, wingless mockup of the space shuttle. The FFT was used for more than 30 years at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston to train every person who flew on the shuttle's 135 missions.
One of those astronauts, Greg C. "Ray-J" Johnson, was at the Super Guppy's controls Thursday, flying the bulbous turboprop aircraft from March Air Reserve Base near Los Angeles to Travis Air Force Base near San Francisco in northern California. For Johnson, who in 2009 piloted the fifth and final shuttle mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope, the trip gave him a chance to fly by Edwards Air Force Base, where he landed aboard space shuttle Atlantis, and also return to Seattle, his hometown.[/i]
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