HOUSTON — Four of the astronauts who will fly the first space shuttle mission since Challenger exploded began training as a team Wednesday, practicing launches and landings in a simulator.
Mission commander Frederick H. Hauck, pilot Richard Covey and mission specialists John M. Lounge and David C. Hilmers entered a computer-driven cockpit simulator at the Johnson Space Center for four hours of practicing the intricate procedures required to launch and land the space shuttle.
Mission specialist George D. Nelson was out of town Wednesday, but all five are scheduled to train together beginning next week.
Launch Scheduled for 1988
They are scheduled to be aboard the space shuttle Discovery when it is launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Feb. 18, 1988, although that date is expected to be pushed back. It will be the first shuttle flight since Challenger exploded on Jan. 28, 1986, killing its seven crew members.
The mission is planned as a four-day flight, with the astronauts placing a satellite in orbit and operating a package of scientific instruments.
Training coordinator Frank Hughes said Wednesday's exercise was routine.
Hauck sat in the left-hand seat, the commander's position, and Covey sat next to him in the pilot's couch. Hilmers and Lounge sat behind them for support duties similar to those of a flight engineer on an airliner.
Duplicate of Flight Deck
The simulator is a duplicate of the shuttle flight deck. Computers simulate signals from actual shuttle equipment and make the cockpit instruments respond as if in real flight. Television screens in place of the cockpit windows give views similar to what the crew members would see during an actual mission.
During training sessions, the simulator computers create problems similar to those that might occur in flight and the astronauts practice ways of correcting those problems.
Hughes said Wednesday's training was designed to keep the astronauts tuned up for training problems that will be specifically designed for their mission.