NASA used both terms on their website, Cockpit and Flight Deck.

One answer on Aviation SE Cockpit vs Flight Deck?says there is a difference between the two. Did NASA use the terms interchangeably, or did they have a reason for using the two different terms?


1 Answer 1


In shuttle parlance the "flight deck" was the upper floor of the three-story crew module, the middeck was, erm, the middle floor, and the ECLSS (or Lower Equipment) bay was the lower floor.

The flight deck included both the forward facing airplane mode controls and the aft facing robot arm and rendezvous controls. If the term cockpit was used - and in my experience it wasn't much if ever in ops - it would have referred to the forward facing airplane mode controls. In ops these were referred to as "the front seats". The aft facing controls were referred to as "the aft flight deck".

The middeck contained the galley, locker space, the toilet facilities, the airlock or the hatch to the airlock, and the side hatch. Upright and/or recumbent seating could be installed here for ascent and entry.

The ECLSS (or Lower Equipment) bay contained Environmental Control and Life Support Systems and other hardware, and was rarely entered by the crew during a mission.

There was a large project to replace the green-screen onboard displays with modern color displays. This was called the Cockpit Avionics Upgrade project and was one of the few places you'd hear the term used.

Reference: shuttle ops work experience

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    $\begingroup$ Also, and critically, the 9 long-duration ISS astronauts returned on Shuttle were placed in recumbent seating on the middeck; the +Gz loading from upright seating would have busted our deconditoned crew limits for orthostasis by quite a bit. $\endgroup$
    – JPattarini
    Jun 30, 2019 at 1:04
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, edited to mention the middeck seating. $\endgroup$ Jun 30, 2019 at 13:19
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    $\begingroup$ FWIW in both nautical and aviation terminology, a deck is the equivalent of a "floor" in a building - everything on the same deck is on the same level; it is not an assignment or description of function. Again referencing aviation terminology, "cockpit" specifically refers to the space in which the pilot(s) operate the craft (flight controls, instruments, etc.). By this logic, a "flight deck" would be so named either because it is the deck on which the cockpit may be found, or the cockpit is the most prominent or significant thing on that deck. $\endgroup$
    – Anthony X
    Jun 30, 2019 at 15:06

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