Inside Nasa's astronaut training centre

Inside Nasa's astronaut training centre

Summary: ZDNet UK's sister site visited Johnson Space Center in Texas, touring a model of Nasa's Space Shuttle that astronauts use for training

TOPICS: After Hours

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  • Nasa's Johnson Space Center

    Before blasting into orbit, Nasa astronauts get a taste of life on-board spacecraft in this hangar-sized room.

    The mock-up room at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, contains models of Nasa and its partners' spacecraft, including the Space Shuttle seen here. Among the models are the International Space Station and the Orion craft that will carry Nasa astronauts after the shuttle is retired.

    Nasa uses the facility to train crew to navigate the spacecraft, carry out emergency drills and study the spacecraft's structure so that they will be able to carry out maintenance work.

    As part of the training, astronauts also learn to access computers on board the spacecraft in case they need to replace hardware.

    Johnson Space Center has been home to mission control for Nasa space missions for more than 40 years, as ZDNet UK's sister site discovered during this tour of mission control through the ages.

    Photo credit: Nick Heath/

  • Cockpit of the Space Shuttle model

    This is the dashboard in the cockpit of the Space Shuttle model.

    The dashboard here is a mock-up, with pictures of the various displays and dummy switches, knobs and sticks inside the shuttle cockpit.

    Astronauts learn to fly the shuttle using a computer simulator, situated elsewhere at Johnson Space Center, which includes screens that replicate cockpit displays and views of outer space through the shuttle windows.

    Since the shuttle programme was launched in the 1970s, the craft has only undergone a single major avionics computer systems upgrade.

    Nasa has launched six Space Shuttles to date, three of which — Atlantis, Discovery and Endeavour — survive as space-faring vehicles today.

    Photo credit: Nick Heath/

Topic: After Hours


Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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