Astronauts training for STS-133 in the motion-base Space Shuttle mission simulator during 2010
Astronauts training for STS-133 in the motion-base Space Shuttle mission simulator during 2010

The Shuttle Mission Simulator (SMS) consisted of two simulators in Building 5 and one simulator in Building 35 of Johnson Space Center. The fixed-base simulators included high-fidelity mockups of the flight deck of a Space Shuttle, as well as a low-fidelity mockup of the middeck. The facility in Building 5 was known as the Fixed Base Simulator (FBS), while the facility in Building 35 was known as the GNS (an acronym for the original name, Guidance and Navigation Simulator[1]). The motion-base simulator consisted of the forward part of the flight deck of the Space Shuttle. It utilized a six-axis hexapod motion system with an additional extended pitch axis to provide motion cuing for all phases of flight.

The Motion Base Simulator (MBS) provided crews with computer generated visual scenes out of the forward windows only, while the fixed-base simulators supplied forward, aft, and overhead window views. Simulation software modeled all Space Shuttle systems including many pre-programmed malfunctions, response to cockpit controls, and interactions between systems. Before a flight, astronauts logged many hours in these simulators. Instructor stations in the complex allowed simulator instructors to monitor and control student progress in the simulations, including the insertion of malfunctions. A central simulation control office monitored the health of the facility, scheduled its use, and responded to maintenance requests.


Depending on training requirements, simulations were conducted with varying levels of interconnection with other simulators or control centers, each of which had a unique identifier used internally within the training and flight control divisions.

The less complex standalone sim was controlled by the instructors in the simulator instructor station, who also portrayed the flight controllers. A dedicated console area in the Mission Control Center, called the Simulation Control Area (or SCA), controlled simulation conduct during integrated activities while the instructors operated the simulator itself.

Disposition to museums

As the Space Shuttle Program ended in July 2011, all the simulators in the SMS complex were mothballed and prepared for removal and transport as excess NASA inventory throughout 2012. None of the three bases remain on display at the location originally assigned.


  1. ^ The GNS originally started as a simulator for just guidance and navigation, but was later upgraded to a full fixed-base simulator. The 1986 Rogers Commission Report records the following testimony on page 2510 as an early reference to the name: "Some other things that we needed and we are stepping out on this now is a guidance and navigation trainer. Right now if we want to teach a pilot, a commander flight techniques or teach him how to do the nav, we have to tie up the whole base to do that, and we shouldn't do that. We should have a part-task trainer. And we've been trying to get one of those for a long time. It looks like right now that we may very well be able to do that. We have got the thing rolling." (italics added for emphasis) [1]
  2. ^ Mullen, W. "No shuttle for Adler, but museum will fly with simulator". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  3. ^ Pearlman, Robert. "'Sooner State' shuttle: Stafford Museum to display NASA simulator in Oklahoma". CollectSpace. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  4. ^ Gilpin, Eva. "Funds shortage has NASA simulator collecting dust". The Battalion. Texas A&M University. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  5. ^ "Lone Star Flight Museum receives historic NASA shuttle simulator for permanent exhibition". Retrieved 18 April 2020.
  6. ^ Winston, Hannah. "A piece of NASA history lands at Keystone Heights museum". The Gainesville Sun. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  7. ^ "Florida Aviation Museum Facing Shutdown". Aero-News Network. Retrieved 8 February 2021.

See also