Started the day by driving to the Gilruth Center at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. First of all, we decided that people here can’t give directions. The directions said Gilruth was at the intersection of two streets, when it was really 1.8 miles from that intersection. We decided that in Texas, a mere 2 miles WAS nearly at the intersection, relatively speaking. Also, the Gilruth Center has an almost invisible sign: gray letters on beige cinder blocks. Outside the building was this nifty vintage looking bicycle, as if we’d gone back to the early days of NASA. But then we saw bicycles like that outside almost every building. I never saw anyone biking and they were all retro-looking, so I decided the same person or group bought them and left them out as seed-bikes to encourage bike riding.
But we arrived, in a drizzle, and met our fellow Tweetup attendees, got badges, and goodie bags. Half of our badges had red stars. But, like the Sneetches Without Star Upon Thars, I was in the non-red-star group and we rode the second bus.
Our first stop was Building 16, SAIL (Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory). Inside were several mock-up of various parts of the shuttle, from as simple as a desk with screens about where the screens are in the shuttle cockpit to domed Systems Engineering Simulators with a ceiling like a planetarium that could hold several different kinds of mockups.
The mock ups were what they referred to as low-fidelity. This means they really didn’t try to hard to make them look or feel exactly like the shuttle, but they were good enough for their particular purpose. The different mockups can be moved in or out of the simulator, so one scenario might use the shuttle cockpit, while another the ISS cupola. The shuttle cockpit was currently in the simulator, and I got to push the thruster button. Different people attempted to dock the shuttle with the ISS. Some crashed it, some docked successfully. Even crashing the shuttle isn’t so bad. You can put, “I once crashed the space shuttle in a NASA training session” in your bio.
Then we moved on to the Rocket Park and the Food Lab. But that’s another post. And of course everyone signed in with Foursquare to each building along the way.