The Full Fuselage Trainer, which NASA used to train Shuttle astronauts for more than 30 years, is now on its way to the Museum of Flight in Seattle.
The first component of the trainer to arrive, a Space Shuttle Main Engine mockup, was unveiled today, April 17, at the museum’s new Charles Simonyi Space Gallery. Museum of Flight president Doug King needed some help from museum employees and ladder to unwrap the artifact at an 11 am press conference.
The Museum of Flight also received word today that other components of the full-scale Shuttle trainer are on the way. NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston sent word that the cockpit section has been lifted off its cradle and prepared for shipment.
The Museum of Flight expects the main sections of the trainer to arrive on June 16. On that day, visitors to the museum will have the rare chance to see the arrival of a NASA Super Guppy aircraft, which will transport the exhibit. The museum hopes to have the Full Fuselage Trainer ready for display less than 24 hours after arrival, when the museum opens its doors on June 17 for Fathers Day.
The Museum of Flight built the Charles Simonyi Gallery to support its bid for a Space Shuttle Orbiter. Although the museum did not receive the hoped-for orbiter, museum personnel are pleased with the Full Fuselage Trainer. In many ways, King said, the FFT is actually a better exhibit. The FFT affords more opportunities for close interaction than an actual orbiter would, which supports King’s goal to make the Museum of Flight the premiere educational aerospace museum in the nation.
Because it does not have wings, the Full Fuselage Trainer also affords more space for secondary exhibits, which will be devoted to the future of spaceflight. The museum has already begun the installation of exhibits that highlight new commercial space ventures from Armadillo Aerospace, Blue Origin, Boeing, Masten Space Systems, Sierra Nevada, Space-X, Virgin Galactic, and XCOR Aerospace, as well as NASA’s potential future manned mission to an asteroid.
Meanwhile, on the opposite coast, the Shuttle orbiter Discovery arrived at the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport.