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Endeavour's end: Mark Kelly lands the shuttle at Kennedy Space Center to close the STS-134 mission. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Ground Effect

Landing a shuttle while re-adapting to gravity can be disorienting. Now there's a way to simulate it on the ground.

Still, if astronauts train with GVS, they could get used to the sensation of spatial disorientation before they feel it for real during a mission, mitigating potential performance problems on reentry. With just one shuttle landing left, the method won’t see operational use any time soon. But astronauts piloting future vehicles, perhaps even on Mars, may prepare using GVS training.

Part of Moore’s focus now is to fine-tune GVS to the point where it can be used in training without making astronauts motion sick, while still accurately reflecting what happens.

“Obviously, if you hit someone on the head with a hammer you could make them land the shuttle not as well as someone who’s not getting hit on the head with a hammer,” says Moore. “But we’re trying to develop a hammer that’s actually realistic.”

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