The FFT is a full-scale mockup of the space shuttle orbiter — without the wings. It was used as a test bed for upgrades to the shuttle fleet and for astronaut training such as extra-vehicular activity (EVA) and emergency egress. Built at Johnson Space Center in the 1970s, it was the oldest mockup in the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility (SVMF). The FFT includes flight-quality systems, such as a payload bay, lighting and closed circuit TV (CCTV).
The Space Vehicle Mockup Facility (SVMF) was located inside Building 9 of Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. It housed several space shuttle mockups, including the FFT, as well as mockups of every major pressurized module on the International Space Station. It was primarily used for astronaut training and systems familiarization.
It typically took at least a year and sometimes longer for astronauts to train, depending on the objectives of the mission. Each crew spent up to 100 hours training in the SVMF in more than 20 separate classes.
While many of the systems in the SVMF are flight-like, they do not contain what is generally known as simulators (as used to train pilots). Instead, the FFT and other trainers in the SVMF were used for astronaut training in housekeeping, in-flight maintenance, stowage familiarity, ingress/egress, etc.
It took a versatile team comprising a variety of skills and experience to develop, maintain and operate the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility. Specialists such as designers, engineers, project managers, electronic technicians and shop technicians were used to create the accurate mockups to train astronauts, test systems, and procedures, and serve as gravity-bound simulations. (Museum of Flight)