Space Shuttle Full Fuselage Trainer Opens To The Public In Seattle
Dignitaries including Washington Governor Christine Gregoire and former NASA shuttle astronauts Nick Patrick and Wendy Lawrence mixed with a crowd of hundreds in the Boeing Field-based facility’s new Charles Simonyi Space Gallery to officially open the trainer to the public. Those in attendance were among the first to tour the exhibit, known as the FFT for short.
Unlike the four real shuttles, whose interiors are not open to the public, visitors to the museum are able to climb aboard and share the same space that every NASA shuttle astronaut to ever go into space has trained in. The full scale mockup allows for an up close and personal experience with each of the three main components: the flight deck, the mid deck and the payload bay.
The payload bay is easily the most accessible. At sixty-one feet long and nineteen feet wide it is the most spacious feature by far. In order to increase accessibility an ADA accessible guide path was installed in the center of the bay extending from a foyer at the aft end to the fully configured airlock at the forward end. Informational panels line the walls and replicas of satellites that would’ve at one point graced the bay hang in suspension above.
While hundreds took the opportunity to tour the payload bay on opening day, only a lucky handful were able to tour the crew compartment. The cramped, roughly 160-sq ft space is available by guided tour only and limited to small group of three or four at a time. Each tour lasts roughly 20 minutes and, unfortunately, will cost a little extra for the privilege on top of admission. Our vote? Worth it.