The flight deck is where the magic happens for a crew of space explorers. It’s the command center, the cockpit and the living area for astronauts during their missions. A great deal of research went into creating the flight deck for every spacecraft, from days when switches would only turn on an indicator light to the modern age of touchscreens. The Commercial Crew Program’s partners are designing their spacecraft to maximize the room the crew has in space and to optimize the information and actions they need to take during a flight. See if you can pick out which of these flight decks belong to which spacecraft. Your choices are: Apollo command module, Boeing’s CST-100, Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser, SpaceX’s Dragon and the space shuttle. Good luck!
Images are courtesy of their respective companies except the space shuttle, which is a NASA photo, and the Apollo cockpit which is courtesy of the National Air & Space Museum.
Boeing’s Chris Ferguson, who commanded the space shuttle’s last mission, took to the controls inside a CST-100 simulator in January to show NASA engineers that the software will allow a human to take control of the spacecraft at any point in a mission following the CST-100’s separation from its booster. Called a pilot-in-the-loop demonstration, the accomplishment was performed in Houston to mark a milestone for the company under its Commercial Crew integrated Capability contract with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
All four of NASA’s industry partners in the Commercial Crew Program are proceeding in the development of their own unique designs for spacecraft that could carry crews to low-Earth orbit. You can find out details about new milestones met during December and January here, plus what commercial achievements mean to the nation’s goal of returning humans to orbit on American spacecraft launched from U.S. soil.
The CST-100 development team and NASA engineers recently accomplished a hardware review and software testing for a spacecraft designed to carry astronauts to low-Earth orbit. Separate, in-depth evaluations of the launch vehicle adapter that will connect Boeing’s CST-100 to the top of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and the detection system that would signal an abort during an emergency were performed. The CST-100, short for Crew Space Transportation, is one of several spacecraft under development by aerospace industry partners working with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to establish crew transportation to low-Earth orbit from U.S. soil. You can read more details about the work here.