Spacelab Medical Simulations

Running parallel to the airborne simulations was a series of ground-based Spacelab simulations held at NASA JSC in Houston. The mock-up facility was constructed by members of the Bioengineering Systems Division and Technical Services Division at JSC. It was located in the former Lunar Receiving Laboratory (Building 37) and outfitted just as the Spacelabs planned for the 1980s would be. Measuring 6.8 m long by 4.06 m in diameter, the facility would be used in a series of life science simulations that would extend from 1974 until the Shuttle and Spacelab were ready for flight operations (which was planned for the late 1970s). Initially termed the Life Sciences Payload Facility (LSPF), this mock-up would support only three Spacelab Mission Development tests (SMD), between October 1974 and May 1977, prior to being terminated four years before the Shuttle flew into orbit and six years before the first Spacelab mission.

The SMD mock-up configured for the second test, with the cosmic ray experiment located at right rear simulating a Shuttle pallet payload.

Construction of the first mock-up began ahead of the selection of the final Spacelab contractor, so it was not an exact replica of baseline data. Additionally, the payload and orbiter interfaces were not precisely representative, and the ground support equipment and control and monitoring of experiments did not reflect the planned Spacelab Command and Data Management System. But these limitations did not seriously affect the contributions of the crew to the success of the simulation.

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