Since 1980, every NASA astronaut has walked these grounds. Building 9, the astronaut training facility, is home to the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility.
Each year, astronauts train within this full-size classroom in the heart of the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC). Since its inception in 1975, the astronaut training facility has supported NASA’s missions, and since 1980 every NASA astronaut who has flown in space has trained in this facility.
There have been several types of mockups within the facility and each served a different function for astronauts and engineers. Initially the facility housed space shuttle trainers such as the, full fuselage trainer and two crew compartment trainers.
After the end of the shuttle program, the shuttle trainers were removed and donated to museums with one crew compartment trainer remaining. Since this time, JSC has added new equipment including rovers and other robotics projects such Valkyrie, NASA’s next generation of humanoid robot. The current space trainers within the facility prepare astronauts for real-life situations such as being aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and flight operations of NASA’s new space vehicle, Orion.
Although equipment in building 9 may evolve, the goal of the training facility has always remained the same. Astronauts have almost 200 training courses within the facility to help them become familiar with the spacecraft, understand its various systems and prepare for emergencies that may occur during a mission.
The astronaut training facility has become the central hub for resolving issues during missions. If a problem were to occur aboard the ISS, JSC officials would come to the facility to work through the situation with engineers, then relay the step-by-step process for the astronauts in orbit.
Space Center Houston offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse at NASA Johnson Space Center on the NASA Tram Tour. As part of this tour, on a walkway positioned right above the training mockups, you will see the engineers, astronauts and equipment used for daily trainings. Each tram tour visits Rocket Park, where the only remaining ready-to-launch Saturn V vehicle rests.
Please note that this is an open-air tram tour. Please monitor weather and plan accordingly. The NASA Tram Tour visits working government facilities which are subject to availability. Tours may be rerouted at a moment’s notice.