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School children and other space enthusiasts in West Seattle and beyond will be able to explore the space shuttle mockup called the Full Fuselage Trainer, or FFT, at the Seattle Museum of Flight in June. NASA began disassembling the full-size mockup of the space shuttle this week in preparation for shipping it to the museum next year. Thank you to Robert Pearlman, Editor, for his assistance with this article and photos.

Space shuttle mockup prepares for Museum of Flight exhibit: Space symposium Dec. 9

NASA began disassembling the full-size mockup of the space shuttle this week in preparation for shipping it next year to the Museum of Flight in Seattle, scheduled to arrive in June.

The mockup is called the Full Fuselage Trainer, or FFT, and is located at Johnson Space Center in Houston. Used for 30 years, it is made primarily of plywood, and a mostly-complete orbiter mockup (absent its wings) outfitted with flight-quality systems, including an instrumented crew cabin, payload bay lighting, and closed circuit TV.

On April 12 the Museum of Flight announced it will house the trainer in its new state-of-the-art, 15,500-square-foot Space Gallery. The Space Gallery had the potential to house a retired United States space shuttle, but the shuttles will be given to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the California Science Center in Los Angeles, the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

The Museum of Flight plans to display the FFT inside its new 15,500-square-foot Space Gallery as the centerpiece of "Spaceflight Academy," a planned permanent exhibit. The FFT display will help tell the story of how astronauts train for their mission and how the knowledge gained during the first 50 years of spaceflight has helped prepare humans to explore farther into the solar system.

According to the space enthusiast website

"This week workers separated the 120-foot-long mockup into three segments: the aft, with its vertical stabilizer (or tail) and mock engines; payload bay, with doors that can be displayed open or closed and orbiter docking system mockup; and the crew compartment and nose, complete with mid- and flight decks.

"Over the next couple of months, workers will remove the aft section's engines and tail so they can be shipped separately, and test hoisting the wooden payload bay off of its metal support base to test its integrity after three decades. The sections will also be weighed to determine if they can be shipped to Seattle using NASA's Super Guppy cargo aircraft."

Museum of Flight

The Museum of Flight's Mike Bush, Director, Marketing and Public Relations, told the West Seattle Herald, "The exhibit that we are building around the FFT is going to be highly interactive. It's going to be beautiful. The people of the Puget Sound region are justified in their excitement for this thing. Unlike the space shuttle, which would be like a lot of our airplanes here, where you just look at them and are not allowed to go on them, with this, people can go on and actually see where every shuttle astronaut trained on this trainer going back to the very first launch.

"That of course includes our local astronauts, our former CEO, Bonnie Dunbar, (West Seattle resident) Gregory Johnson, and Dick Scobee, the commander of the Challenger mission," Bush said. He and his crew were killed in the disaster, Jan. 28, 1986 "He is a local hero," said Bush. "We both attended Auburn High School. His family still lives in the area.

"The trainer works out really well for us because at our core we're an educational institution," he added. "We run about 140,000 kids through here with our education programs each year, school groups, camp groups, boys and girls centers. Our goals is to inspire the next generation of astronauts, innovators, inventors and engineers and this falls right into this mission."

Gallery naming & space symposium open to the public

Bush said that the museum will unveil the name of the new space gallery on Dec. 8. On Dec. 9 the museum and NASA will host the 'Future Forum'. The future of space flight will be discussed. It will include Doug King, Museum of Flight President and CEO, and panelists Philip McAlister, NASA Commercial Spaceflight Development Director, John Mulholland, Boeing, Rob Myerson, Blue Origin, Steve Isakowitz, Virgin Galactic, Mark Sirangelo, Sierra Nevada Corporation Space Systems, Gwynne Shotwell, Space X, and others.

Open to the public. Some events require registration, others are first come first serve.
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