When the Boeing Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) opens to the public in 2015, visitors will have the unique opportunity to learn about the pivotal role of the Boeing Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) in NASA’s Space Shuttle program. Visitors ride an elevator to the main deck of the SCA. They step out into a large-scale cyclorama surrounding a 1/4″-scale model of the Shuttle mounted atop the SCA. Projections of moving clouds bathe the cyclorama and the floor beneath visitors’ feet. Inspirational words, mission facts and quotes by those involved in the Shuttle program are projected on the wall.
As visitors move toward the front of the aircraft they can gather around the rail surrounding the Orientation Theater. A 90-second multimedia show presents the history of NASA 905 — its design and role in Shuttle history, from the wake vortex and approach/landing tests to the transfer of Shuttles. Using “hologram,” rear-projection technology, visitors can virtually meet the pilots and flight engineers who flew the SCA missions along with the aeronautical engineers who modified the aircraft for its historic role in the Shuttle program.
Behind the theater screen is an area devoted to SCA History. Dynamic photos, archival film footage, and scale models form the Boeing SCA-905 backstory. Visitors gather around a 55″, multi-touch display deck to view schematic designs of the aircraft before and after its modifications; alternative options considered for a Shuttle carrier; and an in-depth archive of film, photographs, drawings, and mission-related information. The display is controlled by visitors’ gestures. Visitors can also ascend the original 747 interior stairway to view the aircraft cockpit controls and Shuttle attachment reinforcements.
Towards the rear of the aircraft are a series of Simulation Stations that invite visitors to experience the sort of planning and training both flight and ground crews underwent in their preparation for SCA and Shuttle missions. Focusing on the conflicts experienced by pilots and technical engineers, the Stations highlight the results of the decisions visitors make as they plan missions, conduct research & design, find engineering solutions and learn about basic aeronautics. A virtual control room, wind-testing station and flight simulation are only some of the activities planned the 2015 opening.