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). 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.
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.