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@OrganicMarble's answer to How much of the Shuttle was physically realized in the simulator? makes me wonder if Shuttle crew ever sat or stood or otherwise experienced being in an actual Space Shuttle (not a simulator) in order to simulate some activity that would be done when serving as Shuttle crew, either ahead of a mission or possibly afterward.

I'm also wondering if the console or control system had anything like a "simulator mode" where you could push buttons and move controlls and the computer would respond in some way.

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Aside from the TCDT described in @OrganicMarble's answer the only other test I am aware of where the crew used the actual vehicle during testing was for their flight Crew Equipment Interface Test (CEIT) at the cape.

The CEIT would take place at the Orbiter Processing Facility where the vehicle was being readied before being moved to the Vehicle Assembly Building for mating with the external tank and solid rocket boosters. The OPF provided ground-power to fully power the vehicle for the test.

The purpose of the CEIT was to place the crew, fully suited, into the fully-powered vehicle they would fly to ensure their individual seat positions provided the same reach-and-visibility to the panels and switches that they had become accustomed too during training in the Motion Base simulator (so there were no surprises). The powered test also provided an opportunity for the crew to become familiar with any differences in panel or display brightness between their vehicle and what they saw during training.

The CEIT was scheduled during the final months of a crews mission-specific training. The actual time before launch when it would occur varied slightly based on when their flight vehicle would be in the OPF in a condition to support the test. (but it would generally occur sometime within 5-6 weeks of flight. "White-room" conditions were required for the test so all support personnel involved (other than the suited crew) would be in full "bunny-suit" attire.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer, this seems like quite an important exercise. I'm curious; was the shuttle in a vertical (launch) orientation at the time, or was it horizontal? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Sep 14 at 0:01
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    $\begingroup$ Horizontal, sitting on the OPF floor. They do a just about everything to the vehicle in the OPF, from TPS tile inspection/replacement to readying everything inside as well. The vehicle doesn't go vertical until it is mated with the tank in the VAB. $\endgroup$ – David C. Rankin Sep 14 at 0:16
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There was a Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test (TCDT) performed late in the training flow for each mission in which the crew would fly out to Florida where their Orbiter was stacked on the pad.

This constituted a full-up simulation of the countdown with the firing rooms staffed. Intrusive/extra-expensive activities weren't done - no fluids were actually loaded into the External Tank, and the pilot did not actually start the Auxiliary Power Units (APU), for example- but actual crew station switches were thrown and the crew was strapped in, in the vertical, in their suits. The Orbiter was powered up and switches thrown resulted in actual system responses.

The TCDT ended with a simulated pad abort where the crew would practice unstrapping, climbing out of the Orbiter, and running over to the slidewire baskets (but not actually riding them down).

There was no "sim mode" for the Orbiter controls. When the pilot was supposed to be starting the APUs, she or he just called out the actions and didn't actually move the switches: "Simulating taking APU Controller Power to ON!", etc.

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    $\begingroup$ Another live test was known as the CEIT (Crew Equipment Interface Test) performed at the cape for each assigned crew in their vehicle in the OPF before the vehicle was sent to be mated with the ET and boosters in the VAB. The purpose was to place the crew, fully suited, into the fully-powered vehicle they would fly to ensure their individual seat positions provided the same reach-and-visibility to the panels and switches that they had become accustomed too training in the Motion Base simulator (so there were no surprises) $\endgroup$ – David C. Rankin Sep 13 at 5:56
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidC.Rankin Consider posting that as an answer, it's great info that deserves to be saved. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Sep 13 at 13:08
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    $\begingroup$ Done. Thank you. $\endgroup$ – David C. Rankin Sep 13 at 19:33
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    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble just asked: How do fully-suited astronauts enter the Space Shuttle and sit down in 1 g vertical vs horizontal? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Sep 14 at 0:33

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