Space Flight Simulator

To support the original Ranger Shuttle flight experiment, the Space Systems Laboratory installed a mock-up of the Shuttle aft flight deck. The mock-up flight deck matches the dimensions and layout of the real flight deck, but the only functional systems were those relevant to the operation of remote manipulators; these were a single set of hand controllers, main viewports, and auxiliary camera monitors. To make the flight deck relevant to the modern space program after the retirement of Shuttle and to expand its simulation capabilities, we have upgraded the flight deck to become a Space Flight Simulator with dual hand controllers, three primary displays, three control touchscreens, a large and continuously expanding suite of other input and feedback peripherals, and a computer capable of supporting all of the above.

The new Space Flight Simulator (SFS) represents a simulation environment that mimics the basic layout of modern spacecraft such as Orion, Dragon, and Starliner, allowing local simulations of crewed missions such as docking operations, servicing missions, on orbit assembly, etc. The simulator is also capable of operating all of the SSL’s robots, thus providing a crewed spacecraft analog for neutral buoyancy operations. By simulating operations in an environment that mimics that of modern spacecraft, we are able to better understand and improve upon how we develop control interfaces and feedback loops for our robots to streamline operations in space.