Training for missions is all about preparing for an environment that requires absolute teamwork. There is a process or procedure for each stage of the mission. Everything is scripted and rehearsed.
Students participate in two simulated missions during the week. During the missions, the scripts are used to manage progress. Instrumentation is used to monitor systems. Mission controllers communicate with the flight crew, who execute their tasks in the field.
Preparing for missions includes getting the feel for what it is like to train to be an astronaut.
Astronauts who train for each American crewed space flight have prepared for their flight using simulators: machines that re-create the feeling of being in space.
The following are simulators that campers train on at Space Camp.
1/6th Gravity Trainer
Multi-Axis Trainer (MAT)
Underwater Astronaut Trainer (UAT)
This simulator is modeled after one the Apollo astronauts used for moon walk training. The chair is called the 1/6 chair because it is designed to simulate the Moon’s gravitational pull, which is 1/6 that of Earth’s.
The Apollo astronauts discovered that walking on the moon isn’t as easy as strolling down the street here on Earth.
There are three different kinds of movements that make walking on the moon a piece of cake. These movements are: The Bunny Hop, Side-to-Side and Slow Motion Jog.
The Multi-Axis Trainer simulates the disorientation that astronauts would feel in a tumble spin during reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere.
The MAT is patterned after the MASTIF (Multiple-Axis Spin/Space Test Inertia Facility), a series of cages within cages, used for astronaut training during the Mercury program. The astronauts used this to condition themselves for disorientation that might occur in emergency conditions during flight.
Because the trainee’s stomach will stay centered, the trainee shouldn’t feel nauseous. Also, the MAT won't spin more than twice in a row in the same direction, so the trainee’s inner ear fluid won’t shift, preventing dizzines.
The MMU-1 G Trainer allows trainees to experience what it is like to operate in the micro gravity of space.
In an MMU, astronauts on a shuttle mission can travel untethered for short distances to perform satellite retrieval and repair, inspections of the orbiter surfaces, and other activities where a tethered EVA would be restrictive.
This trainer allows astronauts to move in five different directions: Forward and backward, Roll, Yaw, Side-to-Side and Pitch.
The 5DF was used on Earth by the Gemini, Apollo, and Skylab astronauts to practice moving in a frictionless environment.
The 5DF runs on air bearings to simulate the frictionless environment of space. It also demonstrates Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
The 5DF uses the same five degrees of freedom as the MMU: Forward and backward, Roll, Yaw, Side-to-Side and Pitch.
The Underwater Astronaut Trainer (UAT) is an evironment that is neutrally buoyant, simulating the experience of weightlessness in space.
Area 51 is an experience designed to boost morale, strengthen teams, motivate and inspire. Focus and cooperation are critical. Tasks often require several attempts. It becomes even more challenging when instructors introduce additional constraints.