The Use of Interactive 3D Simulation in Crew Training and Spaceflight Operations 2002-01-2499
As space hardware continues to grow in complexity, the demands on crews expected to be able to operate and maintain this equipment continue to grow. In terms of the International Space Station, the demands on the crew have been further increased by the reduction in crew capacity from the originally planned seven members down to three. This situation has prompted the need to find new ways of training that can meet these demands. In particular, just-in-time training techniques promise to enable crew members to correctly execute procedures that they have never performed before on equipment that they are only marginally familiar with or perhaps have never even seen before. To enable crews to work with unfamiliar procedures or equipment, we believe that it is necessary to employ a highly visual approach to convey the complex spatial information that is often involved. To this end, we are exploiting new techniques that have been developed for economically producing effective, interactive 3D computer graphics and simulation. 3D simulation by itself is hardly new to training for the space program. However, 3D simulation-based training has traditionally focused on techniques requiring large 3D graphics files, specialized graphics workstations, and large amounts of custom developed application code. Head-mounted displays and other heavy and cumbersome equipment may also be involved. We are focusing instead on new, lightweight techniques involving small, highly compressed 3D graphics files, COTS software, and portable laptop or handheld computers. The result of this approach is a training system that may be used in-flight and that allows new training materials to be transmitted electronically on an as-needed basis for unexpected or off-nominal situations. The applications of these lightweight and flexible 3D simulation techniques are vast and we expect the techniques to become a useful tool for crews in space as well as for those of us that remain on Earth.