Earlier this week, veteran NASA astronauts Eric Boe and Sunita Williams flew their T-38 into Spirit of St. Louis Airport, and headed over to the headquarters of Boeing’s Defense, Space and Security division near St. Louis’ Lambert International Airport. The goal of the visit – training.
The two astronauts were here to use Boeing’s touch-screen simulators to practice docking Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft with the space station. The simulator, called the Crew Part-Task Trainer, helps prepare astronauts and flight controllers for missions, flight conditions and situations including the rendezvous and docking with the space station.
The trainer is part of a suite of cloud-based and hands-on trainer that Boeing has built for use by the NASA space program. The Boeing Mission Simulator is currently being built in St. Louis.
Space exploration isn’t a new thing for Boeing, a key company and leader in Missouri’s aerospace excellence. Boeing’s role in space exploration began in the 1960s. The McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, which later merged with McDonnell Douglas before its merger with Boeing — developed the Mercury and Gemini space capsules.
Today, Boeing is developing the Starliner, its launch vehicle and mission operations and ground systems. SpaceX is developing the next-generation crew capsule.
Boeing and SpaceX are aiming for test flights to the space station by the end of 2017.