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Intelligent Virtual Station (IVS)

IVS is an extensible software platform that provides an intelligent 3D virtual environment to support crew training for the International Space Station (ISS). It provides an intuitive single interface for easy access to critical information and the ability to generate and visualize planned and unplanned (science, repair) procedures in real-time.

Information Technology (IT) tool:

  • A 3D Virtual Environment capability providing an intuitive graphic interface to critical information. The information may be local or remote.
  • Procedures for planned/unplanned events are easily generated and viewed by astronauts for training in performing science experiments, equipment repair, and facility maintenance.
  • It runs on a portable laptop. An extensible complementary version could run on a PDA.
Graphic InterfaceAccomplishments: Conducted mission-focused R&D related to crew training, including collaborative work with Space Station Training Facility (SSTF) Project Office at JSC.

Image right: The graphic interface is intuitive and runs on a laptop.

Tied non-immersive virtual reality (VR) clients (Windows-based portable computers) displaying models of the ISS exterior and interior to the ISS simulation infrastructure at SSTF.

Mission-focused prototype of the ISS Node 2 module developed for used as adjunct to crew training at SSTF. Originally scheduled for deployment as part of the 10A training segment at SSTF.

Developed prototype to demonstrate secure access from remote locations, thereby enabling US-based training options for crew members deployed at remote sites such as Star City, Russia.

Research Overview
An astronaut undergoes training in different countries, many months, or even years before a mission. After training, several months can pass before a launch. With IVS, flight controllers, trainers and astronauts can continually practice while waiting for a launch. Researchers chose the ISS as the first IVS application but say they can easily expand the software to include other interfaces, such as a virtual space shuttle or even a virtual rover, using CAD data designers and engineers used to design the parts. A user could view documents and different stages of the Apollo mission, a payload rack in the space shuttle or parts of a planetary exploration rover.

Simulating Training Astronauts Background
Image left: Training astronauts to perform complex tasks.

Imagine a manual is tossed in your lap and now it's your job to install and maintain a series of complicated pieces of machinery. Think you'd have a better chance if first you were given a virtual training environment in which to become familiar with the pieces and the machine? That's one of the ideas behind Intelligent Virtual Station (IVS), a software framework that gives astronauts, trainers and flight controllers access to NASA JSC Space Station Training Facility (SSTF) within a virtual environment.

Using a keyboard and mouse or joystick with most PC computers, a user can move easily inside and outside the station to interact with its parts -- from the station's truss to the interior of a module to a bolt behind a module wall -- while accessing relevant documents.

The ISS is the largest international scientific and technological endeavor ever undertaken. In addition to numerous data files and databases associated with the design, construction, engineering and assembly of the one million pound structure, the science-driven mission comprises many manuals and procedures associated with science projects in Earth observation, space science, physics and engineering research, and technology. To save trainers and trainees time sorting through multiple manuals, IVS makes the data accessible with an intuitive, easy-to-use interface. Its data management system provides a link between objects in the virtual environment and data associated with the object.

IVS enables users to access relevant data by clicking on an object in the virtual environment. For instance, a user navigating to the life science glove box could click a folder containing science experiment procedure manuals associated with it. With IVS, flight controllers and trainers can generate virtual training procedures for astronauts, to help them visualize the steps required to handle a science experiment or replace a component on the station.