The Stafford Air & Space Museum has acquired NASA’s primary Shuttle Fixed-Based Simulator (FBS) from the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, IL. One of the most significant and historic artifacts from the Space Shuttle era, the FBS was used by NASA at the Johnson Space Center in Houston during the entire 30-year history of the Shuttle program. Each one of the 135 astronaut crews to fly the Space Shuttle conducted a significant part of their primary training in the FBS. By acquiring an artifact of this significance, the Stafford Museum has taken another giant step towards its goal of becoming an institution of national importance.
The FBS is a high-fidelity replica of the entire flight deck, or cockpit, of the Space Shuttle. Comprised of the fore and aft-decks, the FBS is an exact representation of the Shuttle cockpit, fully-equipped with more than 2,200 switches, gauges, circuit breakers, computer displays, and dials that were part of the highly complex Shuttle cockpit – much of it being flight-ready hardware.
The original site selected by NASA for the FBS was the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, where it was transported four years ago. During that time, the simulator remained crated, awaiting proper display designs and restoration. Earlier this year, the Stafford Museum started working closely with the Adler Planetarium regarding the care and preservation of the simulator. During this time, major changes were made in the long-term exhibit planning for the Chicago-based facility. As a result of these changes, it was determined that the best long-term home for this important artifact would be the Stafford Air & Space Museum.
The cost to acquire and move the simulator to the Stafford Museum was underwritten by the museum’s foundation, which is financed, in part, through numerous memberships and generous donations from individuals and companies from around the country. Their invaluable support has allowed the Stafford Museum to grow and develop its exhibits and collection into a historical archive beginning to be recognized on a national level.
The staff of the Stafford Museum will soon undertake the restoration process on the FBS, making it ready for public display after the first of the year. The FBS will become a major feature of the new Space Shuttle gallery under development at the museum. The updated gallery will include hundreds of other priceless artifacts from the Shuttle program, including a flown Shuttle main engine, a flown solid-rocket booster segment, a partial tail assembly, fuel cells, space suits, a flown cargo bay pallet, experiment packages, rare items from the Hubble Space Telescope, and hundreds of other Shuttle artifacts.
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