“Well, if I had a dollar for every time they’ve killed me in this thing…”
The Mars Mission Simulator (MMS) consisted of two simulators in Building 5 of Johnson Space Centre (JSC). The Fixed-Base Simulator (FBS) included high-fidelity mock-ups of the Mars Exploration Module (MEM) Ascent Stage cabin, as well as a low-fidelity mock-up of the Descent Stage laboratory area. The Motion-Base Simulator (MBS) consisted of the Ascent Stage cabin. It utilized a six-axis hexapod motion system with an additional extended pitch axis to provide motion cuing for all phases of Martian entry, descent and landing, as well as ascent and orbital insertion.
The MBS provided crews with computer generated visual scenes out of the downward looking windows only, while the FBS supplied downward, aft, and rendezvous window views. Simulation software modelled all MEM systems including many pre-programmed malfunctions, response to cockpit controls, and interactions between systems. Building 5 at JSC also contained FBS of the Apollo Command and Service Module (CSM) and Skylab stations, as well as MBS’s of the CSM and Mission Module Command Post, which simulated Ares stack transposition and docking.
Before each Ares flight, astronauts logged many months in these simulators; and during Trans Mars Cruise, had a small computer simulator aboard the space vehicle which they used to practice the most challenging parts of the mission.