“Ready to dock this bad boy, Mr. President?”
“It’s a go, Mr. Chancellor.”
The above is almost certainly the conversation President Barack Obama and Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher did not have as they operated the Boeing CST-100 Starliner Simulator in Pitt’s Alumni Hall demo area during the White House Frontiers Conference.
The simulator allows participants to fly a manual final approach and docking to the International Space Station's Node 2 Harmony module. Participants, such as Obama and Gallagher, receive a quick instructional briefing on how to fly a spacecraft and then are given manual control.
Beginning at a distance of about 10 meters from the station, the “astronauts” use the simulator flight controls to maneuver down the docking corridor while maintaining the proper amount of forward speed.
They’ve got to go fast enough to engage the docking clamps but not so fast that they damage the station. The simulation lasts about five minutes.
—By Joe Miksch