Johnson Space Center – part 2

Posted: June 26, 2011 in family, flying, travel
Tags: , , , , ,
Arriving at Mission Control

Arriving at Mission Control

Thursday was the big day. It was also a very full one. It started with getting to use the space shuttle simulator – the real one. For a pilot this is a big deal. It was for my kids too.


Pictures of notable visitors

A key in case you can't recognize the faces.


A few less notable people have preceded us.


The full motion simulator

Learning how to strap in


We first got to see one of the fixed simulators and then it was off to prepare for the full motion simulator. The first thing to do is to learn how to get buckled in and how to place the seat into the takeoff position. For takeoff the seatback is greater than 90 degrees. It feels weird at first.


Here is video of my son Chris as the shuttle lifts off. The simulator actually leans you back about 80° so you are close to the position you would be in the real shuttle sitting on the launch pad.

Here  is video of Chris landing the shuttle.

Chris in the commander's seat

Michi takes the controls

Launch position

Michi landing

Cathe gets a shot

Paul gets to try


At the end we got to sign the log and received our score sheets. If you want to see how we did click the link below. CHAP is my son Chris, MDP my daughter Michelle, PEP yours truly and Cathe was our host who graciously tried to make the rest of us look better.

shuttle landing score sheets

After flying the main full motion simulator it was time to tour Mission Control.

The old mission control from the Apollo era

In the 60's this would be a direct call to the White House

ISS Mission Control

Chris at the Flight Director station at Space Shuttle Mission Control

Progress had just docked with ISS. Inside Russian support.

There was a lot that we saw that I’m not posting here. There was the audio and video switching room with feeds from all over the world. That’s where they play the wake up music. There was the data backup facility. Every conversation and video feed is recorded. They were using VHS tapes! I will post a photo of one more area. We visited where they monitor the world wide network. Of particular interest to me was the equipment in the photo below:

They send data to remote sites and loop it back so they can measure bit error rate. That struck a chord since both Advanced Memory Buffer and sRIO work I have been involved with required extensive bit error rate testing. I was more familiar with the BERTscope.


That’s it for the simulator and Mission Control.

  1. Cathe Conner says:

    I have to say I was quite humbled to have a 10 year old and 14 year old out land me. Of course this is the first time I have done this so it was very interesting and challenging. A shame we are losing this. Not only the simulator but the shuttle also. A new era of US in space is coming up so America stay tune.

  2. Judging by the big smile on young master Chris’s face, he “gets it” in terms of how cool his Dad is by being able to pull this off. Just getting a shot at the simulator is a big deal. To understand what a unique experience it is to share with his kids puts Paul over-the-top.


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