1996-07-01

Virtual Reality Control of On-Orbit Spacecraft 961583

The Ranger Telerobotic Flight Experiment is a highly complex teleoperated spacecraft, requiring direct human control of 36 major degrees of freedom. The University of Maryland Space Systems Laboratory and the NASA Ames Research Center are cooperating on the development of a virtual reality control station to streamline human interfaces with the Ranger spacecraft. This describes the design and integration of the Ranger Command Chair, a system incorporating fully immersive helmet-mounted stereo displays with head tracking, hand tracking for direct positional control, and supplemental controls and displays to allow a single operator to functionally control the entire vehicle. This system is currently undergoing tests with the Ranger Neutral Buoyancy Vehicle, a functionally identical vehicle used for systems development and flight operations simulations. Current status of the system is presented, along with plans for direct comparisons between virtual reality and more traditional control modes.

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