Where we won't go anymore.
July 12, 2011 6:29 AM   Subscribe

VR Panorama of the Space Shuttle Discovery's flight deck
posted by bitmage (34 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
We've all got our switches, lights, and knobs to deal with, Striker.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:37 AM on July 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Apollo Command Module panorama, for comparison.
posted by swift at 6:49 AM on July 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's an incredible view, but I do wish there was annotation to give you an idea what each area was for. Maybe the descriptions would be too byzantine to make much sense anyway...
posted by codacorolla at 6:58 AM on July 12, 2011


This panorama would make a great foundation for one of those Escape-the-Room games.


Two things:
1. In the back there's a panel with the word "Canada" next to the Canadian flag.
2. There's a Dell laptop on the rear left. I wonder what that's for.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:04 AM on July 12, 2011


2. There's a Dell laptop on the rear left. I wonder what that's for.

I noticed that too. It makes me wonder how powerful/what type of computer is running the ship, and whether it could be replaced by a reasonably high-end personal computer. We were able to get to the moon with less technology than I'd assume is in most phones, but then again modern OSes are probably more finicky and fragile than you'd want maintaining the lives of a crew of space-travelers. That's my layman guess at it, anyway.
posted by codacorolla at 7:11 AM on July 12, 2011


The Canada flag is there for the Canadarm, which is made in Canada.

The Dell is probably for mission checklists and other non-flight functions. The Flight Computers are quite primitive by today's standards, but have to be reliable under flight loads, radiation, etc.
posted by bitmage at 7:15 AM on July 12, 2011


Look at cockpit of the Airbus A380 and you might see a clue the fleet of these 1970s station wagons are finally being retired.
posted by three blind mice at 7:17 AM on July 12, 2011


Want to push buttons.
posted by Kabanos at 7:17 AM on July 12, 2011


Can't cockpits and flight decks be designed to be less, I dunno..."formal"? Astronauts and pilots are human too - wouldn't a somewhat more aesthetically pleasing environment provide some functional and psychological benefits? Those jobs are not without stress.
posted by davebush at 7:25 AM on July 12, 2011


The Airbus is much more modern, but there are some differing design goals. The controls on the Shuttle need to be able to be manipulated while wearing gloves and under 3 G's of load and vibration. The little keys on the Airbus wouldn't work.

Here's some more information on the what the laptops are used for. There's some old documentation on the main computers, including the language guides and programming manuals (!) here.
posted by bitmage at 7:26 AM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


davebush: Perhaps something with natural materials? Maybe some nice wood elements?
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 7:28 AM on July 12, 2011


three blind mice: "Look at cockpit of the Airbus A380 and you might see a clue the fleet of these 1970s station wagons are finally being retired."

Discovery's glass cockpit was installed less than a decade ago. Looks like pretty standard (and current) military-grade hardware to me.
posted by schmod at 7:29 AM on July 12, 2011


Can't cockpits and flight decks be designed to be less, I dunno..."formal"? Astronauts and pilots are human too - wouldn't a somewhat more aesthetically pleasing environment provide some functional and psychological benefits?

The commander and pilot are always military pilots of some sort, so the layout is based on a person of that background needs. It is functional and provides immense psychological benefits in that the pilots are in a cockpit they're comfortable with.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:30 AM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


> There's a Dell laptop on the rear left. I wonder what that's for.

Certainly not for any shuttle control systems. It's for the astronauts to file reports, follow timelines, and surf the web.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:30 AM on July 12, 2011


> wouldn't a somewhat more aesthetically pleasing environment provide some functional and psychological benefits?

I would be the view out the windows more than compensates for the the lack of swooshy dashboard elements.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:32 AM on July 12, 2011


uh, be = bet.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:32 AM on July 12, 2011


My Dell laptop couldn't handle a simple drop by my then 8 year old. How is it going to handle the vibrations from liftoff and re-entry? I do know that they use them for email and the same things I use mine for here in my own space command central controlling the daily mechanisms of family life. But, when something goes wrong in my command module, instead of saying, "Houston, we have a problem." I scream something along the lines of, "How many frigging times have I asked you to put the damn dishes in the sink, pick up your smelly uniform, feed the cats, and STOP BOTHERING YOUR SISTER?" Grrr.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:39 AM on July 12, 2011


Also, there were two more seats on the flight deck for actual missions as you can see in this cool video of the flight deck during the launch of STS-121.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:42 AM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


My question is, how do they get in and out of the seats without accidentally flipping lots of switches? I've wondered this about aircraft in the past.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:06 AM on July 12, 2011


Maybe some nice wood elements?

I never noticed before that they had bulkhead to bulkhead carpeting on the bridge.

posted by Kabanos at 8:08 AM on July 12, 2011


> how do they get in and out of the seats without accidentally flipping lots of switches?

Those little bars or gates around each switch do a pretty good job of preventing them all from being thrown if an errant astronaut slams into that panel while floating around in zero g.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:10 AM on July 12, 2011


I ALSO WANT TO PUSH ALL THE BUTTONS. THANK YOU.

It's like somebody read Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator as a kid and said, "You know what? Let's make that shit happen."
posted by Wolfdog at 8:14 AM on July 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


My question is, how do they get in and out of the seats without accidentally flipping lots of switches?

In earlier programs (Apollo, Gemini etc), a member of the backup crew got into the ship a few hours before take off and manually set all the switches to the correct position. Once the crew was positioned in their seats and strapped in, they double checked the positions. Something similar probably occurred* for the Shuttle flights.

Considering the layout of the shuttle, where it's harder to get astronauts into positions, the switch guards and double checking are extra important.

* I keep writing about the Shuttle in the present or future tense, then remember that's all over and have to go back and change words.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:31 AM on July 12, 2011


Also, there were two more seats on the flight deck for actual missions as you can see in this cool video of the flight deck during the launch of STS-121.

Assuming the commenter who said this was correct - and I think they were upon looking at it more closely - the astronaut most visible in the shot is Capt. Mark Kelly (husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords).
posted by aught at 8:32 AM on July 12, 2011


how do they get in and out of the seats without accidentally flipping lots of switches?

Also, they have been practicing every detail of their mission (no doubt down to the nitty gritty details like how to get out of their seats, suits, etc.) for many, many months.
posted by aught at 8:34 AM on July 12, 2011


Also, they have been practicing every detail of their mission (no doubt down to the nitty gritty details like how to get out of their seats, suits, etc.) for many, many months.

Yeah, but still it's complicated, as shown in this shot of Closeout Crew member checking an astronaut seated on the flight deck (probably the commander).

More on the Closeout Crew: article, accompanying video.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:52 AM on July 12, 2011


What, no cup holders??
posted by monospace at 9:11 AM on July 12, 2011


In the back there's a panel with the word "Canada" next to the Canadian flag.

Perhaps this refers to the Canadarm?

I came up in the seventies and eighties in Canada, and our teachers talked up the Canadarm all the time.
posted by Sauce Trough at 11:06 AM on July 12, 2011


The Flight Computers are quite primitive by today's standards, but have to be reliable under flight loads, radiation, etc.

If memory serves there are actually 5 flight modules that all run in parallel & vote on each action, with I think 3 out of 5 majority required to perform an action. They take fault tolerance seriously.
posted by scalefree at 11:10 AM on July 12, 2011


If memory serves there are actually 5 flight modules that all run in parallel & vote on each action, with I think 3 out of 5 majority required to perform an action.

There are five physical computers. Four of the them are grouped in a system called PASS (Primary Avionics Software System) These operate in lockstep and can 'vote out' a computer that is judged to be malfunctioning.

The fifth computer is running software called BFS (the Backup Flight System). BFS is built to the exact same specifications as PASS, but by a different vendor. The idea is that if there's a software bug in PASS, it's very unlikely that the same bug will also be present in BFS, and if some PASS bug is encountered, then the shuttle can be switched over to BFS. BFS has never been engaged, according to Wikipedia.

They take fault tolerance seriously.

Yup, you have redundancy to deal with both hardware failure and software failure. Very cool stuff, at least to this vanilla web nerd.
posted by Sauce Trough at 11:23 AM on July 12, 2011


Q: Now this one I'm particularly keen about. You see the gear lever here? Now, if you take the top off, you will find a little red button. Whatever you do, don't touch it.

James Bond: Yeah, why not?

Q: Because you'll release this section of the roof, and engage and then fire the passenger ejector seat. Whish!
posted by digsrus at 12:06 PM on July 12, 2011


BFS has never been engaged, according to Wikipedia

It must be interesting to have worked on the BFS code, and then watched the entire Shuttle program pass without it ever being used. Kind of like the teams at the abort sites in Europe -- staffed and waiting on every flight, but never needed.
posted by bitmage at 12:51 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Holy cats, that's a lot of doo-hickeys and dinguses in that thar thing!
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:58 PM on July 12, 2011


Can't get over how analog it all is.
posted by bardic at 6:53 PM on July 12, 2011


« Older Russian divers working for the Orda Cave Awareness...  |  Dog and Deco.... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments