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  Space Center Houston: Next tram tour stop, SAIL

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Author Topic:   Space Center Houston: Next tram tour stop, SAIL
Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 08-15-2012 12:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
collectSPACE
Setting SAIL for history: Houston's hidden space shuttle opening to public tours

As NASA has been getting ready its retired space shuttles to set sail for their museum homes, the agency has also been quietly preparing its least known orbiter vehicle to stay in place.

The SAIL — or Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory — is set to become the newest stop on tours of the Johnson Space Center in Houston this fall.

The once fully-functional space shuttle simulator, which was used throughout the 30-year program to develop and test the flight software for each of the 135 missions, was designated an honorary part of the fleet with its own orbiter vehicle (OV) number...

MarylandSpace
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posted 08-15-2012 01:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MarylandSpace   Click Here to Email MarylandSpace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Excellent article. SAIL was something I had never heard of. cS is a great site to learn about NASA and space everyday.

JSC01
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Posts: 56
From: Houston, Texas, USA
Registered: Nov 2011

posted 08-15-2012 02:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for JSC01     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great article, thanks! I had heard about SAIL being added to the to tour, but didn't know much about it. Nice to hear the details!

p51
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From: Olympia, WA, USA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 08-15-2012 03:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sweet! I'll be at JSC sometime next month.

Funny how you keep hearing of different simulators. I also had never heard of this one, I'd assumed they only had the FFT at Houston and maybe a cockpit simulator for pilots and that was it.

I wonder exactly how many official mockups and simulators NASA had for the shuttle program and how many of them still exist (I assume most of them)?

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 08-15-2012 03:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Speaking with Space Center Houston's operations manager today, the SAIL tour is not likely to begin much before Thanksgiving (and it may slip into early next year). There's still a lot of work to go transforming this operational lab into a tour-friendly tram stop.

With regards to shuttle simulators, there was the Full Fuselage Trainer (now at the Museum of Flight in Seattle); two Crew Compartment Trainers (one headed to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton and the other destined for Space Center Houston); the motion-base simulator (now at Texas A&M); the fixed-base simulator (heading soon for the Adler Planetarium in Chicago); the Guidance and Navigation Simulator (GNS) simulator (in the process of moving to the Wings of Dreams Museum in Florida); and the shuttle single system crew trainer (destined for the Virginia Air & Space Center in Hampton).

The SAIL had at one time three different flight decks. One of them was moved previously to the Strategic Air and Space Museum in Nebraska.

The SAIL is a bit different than all the other simulators and mockups as the others were primarily dedicated to training astronaut crews. The SAIL was devoted to developing and testing the flight software packages for each mission.

The SAIL played a significant role in Columbia flying manned on its first mission as the flight software was fully tested in the laboratory first.

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-29-2012 09:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Today's (Sept. 29) Johnson Space Center Open House was the first time the public has been allowed to tour the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory (SAIL). The lab is still undergoing renovations to become a tour stop on the Space Center Houston tram but as these photos show, progress is coming along nicely.

Above: A new lobby at the entrance to Building 16 sets the stage for what visitors will see entering the SAIL. A brief video about the history of OV-095 introduces guests to what the facility was used for and that the what they are about to tour was an integral part to all 135 shuttle missions.

Above: On the ground (entrance) floor, glass walls allow a look in and underneath the SAIL. Here you can see the back wall of the mid-deck.

Above: A new upper level viewing platform allows a birds-eye view of the payload bay and its miles of wiring and cables. The "glass box" in the center will eventually allow visitors to step into the payload bay for a 360 degree view.

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-29-2012 09:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Above: On display, the original General Purpose Computer (GPC) units that flew on STS-1.

Above: Visitors won't be able to enter the SAIL crew cabin, but get a good look inside. When the tours begin, a single systems trainer flight deck positioned nearby will offer the opportunity to get a close-up view of the shuttle cockpit.

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-29-2012 09:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Above: Many of the computers that controlled the SAIL have been removed and/or repurposed elsewhere at Johnson Space Center, clearing the view from the replica of the Launch Control Center (LCC) consoles to OV-095.

Above: Perhaps the best part of today's tour, and hopefully on the public tours of the future, was the presence of SAIL workers. I met today people who worked in the SAIL going all the way back to the Approach and Landing Tests.

Jay Chladek
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From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 10-01-2012 01:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
The SAIL had at one time three different flight decks. One of them was moved previously to the Strategic Air and Space Museum in Nebraska.
Just to clarify about the SAIL flightdeck we have at the Strategic Air and Space Museum in Nebraska, it is not as high fidelity as this one is and it doesn't have a full set of panels inside. Granted, it may have at one time and they were just stripped out in preparation for its display as a museum piece. But it doesn't even have open windows. After the museum got it, black windows were painted on the exterior to make it look like more like a shuttle flight deck.

By comparison, this SAIL flightdeck is likely as close in panel and switch configuration to an operational shuttle as one is going to ever see (although the other trainers are likely pretty close as well).

That being said, we welcome anyone to come visit Nebraska's museum as we have quite a few interesting artifacts on display, such as Apollo Block 1 "009", a shuttle tire, one of the X-38 CRVs, the SAIL flight deck, a VELA satellite and a few other things (along with LOTS AND LOTS of aircraft, all indoors).

All times are CT (US)

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