Today I got to go for a ride in the motion based simulator of the shuttle with a few other folks that I work with. It was so much fun! We started with a launch. The simulator actually puts you on your back so you get the feeling of 1G in your chest. In a real launch scenario, the astronauts feel 3G, but this is how they train. The ride up wasn't nearly as rough as I expected it to be. The instructor actually compared it to riding down a cobblestone road. I'm not sure if that's realistic or not for a real launch.
A few minutes into the launch, we simulated a main engine failure, which meant we would return to the launch site for a landing. The ride back to the ground was interesting. We went from our backs to a seated position to our backs and to a seated position again during the different stages of RTLS (return to launch site). The instructor landed the shuttle the first time to show us what to do, but then we each got to take a turn landing. We all managed to land the shuttle successfully, which is quite an accomplishment from what I understand.
It was an awesome experience. It probably would have been even better for me if I hadn't been sick. I have a bad cold, so being on my back for that long just made me feel even more congested. It was worth it though!