February 2, 1998 - Ascent/Entry Sims, Bailout, and BDC's

This week marked the first integrated ascent and entry simulations for the orbiter crew, another step up in simulation fidelity on the road to flight.  We also had the chance to practice post-insertion and deorbit as a complete crew.  The first and last few hours of a flight are choreographed completely, and our plan is shaping up well.

As always, part of that plan in preparing for contingencies.  We therefore practiced bailout and emergency egress procedures as a crew.  Something we hope we never need, but reassuring to know that we can execute this plan well.

Finally, we spent the bulk of our time in a series of L-2 months BDC's (baseline data collections) for the investigators using human subjects.  These included tilting experiments to study blood pressure control; centrifugation to study the vestibular (balance) system; monitored sleep to examine the effects of melatonin on sleep quality; and virtual reality to baseline the importance of each crewmember's vision in determining position and orientation.  It was a long and successful week...the pre-flight excitement continues to build!

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