At A Glance
The Simulation and Graphics Branch is responsible for management, development, maintenance and operation of multiple facilities that provide high-fidelity, real-time graphical simulations used to support both engineering analysis and flight crew training needs. Among these engineering facilities critical to the success of human space flight are the Systems Engineering Simulator, the Virtual Reality Lab (VRL), and the Prototype Immersive Technologies (PIT) Lab. The Simulation and Graphics Branch also provides graphics models, rendering software, and real-time simulation models and tools throughout the Johnson Space Center and for cooperative activities with other NASA centers, government agencies, and agency partners.
The Simulation and Graphics Branch is responsible for management, development, maintenance and operation of multiple facilities, including the SES, VRL and PIT Lab that provide high-fidelity, real-time graphical simulations used to support engineering analysis and crew training needs.
The Simulation and Graphics Branch also provides graphics models, rendering software, visualizations, and simulation models and tools that are used throughout JSC and other NASA centers, government agencies, industry and international partners.
Our Role in Flight Projects
Visualization and simulation are key components to a successful space program. All new programs start out as ideas, but the tools that the Simulation and Graphics Branch produces helps engineers turn these ideas into reality. These tools are used:
• to enhance the design of new vehicles, including Orion and Gateway, where concepts are virtually “flown” in a simulator and evaluated for safety, efficiency, operability, etc.
• to plan missions involving already-built vehicles, like ISS, by helping mission planners to ensure success while minimizing risk.
• to train astronauts as they prepare for flight by immersing them in a flight-like environment to enhance skills and prepare them for all potential contingencies.
What We Need
The Simulation and Graphics Branch products are built off of specifications from vehicle and mission designers. In many cases, models of specific vehicle systems produced by other NASA organizations are incorporated into ER simulations.
Challenges We Face
Our primary concern is that our simulations are sufficiently accurate for the purposes for which they were built. All simulations are approximations, and allowable uncertainty is dictated by intended use. Balancing fidelity with cost is a never-ending challenge.
When We Engage
Simulations should be a central component during all phases of a space vehicle, from conceptualization through design, implementation, and operations.
Points of Contact
• Michael McFarlane, Branch Chief
• Alexander Lin, Deputy Branch Chief