Return to Flight space shuttle commander Eileen M. Collins and pilot James M. Kelly will be available for a 15-minute question-and-answer session with the news media on March 23, at approximately 12 noon PST. The astronauts will be at NASA Ames Research Center, located in California’s Silicon Valley, to train at the center’s Vertical Motion Simulator (VMS). The STS-114 Discovery mission to the International Space Station is scheduled for launch between May 15 and June 3.

While in the simulator, Collins and Kelly will practice space shuttle landing and safety procedures. The VMS accurately produces various landing scenarios, including landing at night, landing with heavy cross winds or landing with a flat tire. The astronauts will ‘land’ the shuttle as many as 30 times during their four hours of training in the simulator. Astronaut crews have been training at the Vertical Motion Simulator since the early 1980s.

The VMS complex provides researchers with exceptional tools to explore, define and solve issues in both aircraft and spacecraft design. It offers fast and cost-effective solutions, using real-time piloted simulation, realistic sensory cues and the greatest motion range of any flight simulator in the world. In addition to the space shuttle, the VMS has simulated vehicles including the AV-8 Harrier jet fighter, the CH-47D Chinook helicopter and concept aircraft and spacecraft.

Please call Jonas Dino at 650/604-5612 by 3:00 p.m. PST on Tuesday, March 22, to confirm attendance. Interviews with researchers involved in other NASA Ames Return to Flight activities are available upon request. U.S. media representatives must have valid, government-issued photo ID in order to enter Ames. To reach Ames, take the Moffett Field exit from U.S. Highway 101, drive east to the main gate and the visitor badging office. Please plan to arrive by 11:30 a.m. PST for security clearance, badging and directions.