3. Throwback Thursday: NASA Fixed Base and Motion Base Simulators
One of our recently featured "Women in VR" Lisa Laxton worked at NASA's Johnson Space Center at the Shuttle Mission Simulators, where they had a full-size mock-up of a Space Shuttle called the Fixed Base Simulator and a full-size mock-up of the cockpit mounted on a movable platform called the Motion Base Simulator. These, according to Laxton, formed the basis for virtual world technology as we know it today.
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.
When the Space Shuttle Program ended in 2011, however, these simulators were retired and given to museums. The Fixed Base simulator was shipped to Chicago where it was originally planned to be an attraction at the Adler Planetarium, but in 2016 it was transferred to the Stafford Air & Space Museum in Weatherford, Oklahoma.