Touchscreen simulators train astronauts for commercial spacecraft

Touchscreen simulators train astronauts for commercial spacecraft

NASA astronauts spend countless hours working with simulators for every minute they spend in space. Those training for missions to the International Space Station are using new simulators that mimic the controls and behavior of both the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and the SpaceX Crew Dragon.

The part-task trainers built by Boeing feature giant touchscreens that allow astronauts to get familiar with the interfaces they will use to control the spacecraft.

“These simulators have touchscreen displays, which means they are more versatile than previous spacecraft trainers,” NASA's commercial crew astronauts Suni Williams said. “We can run multiple simulations by just changing software and then put that same software into a bigger crew simulator, which we will use to train the whole crew for a spaceflight.”

When wired into the Boeing and NASA networks, the cloud-based simulators will interact with launch and mission controllers to run rehearsals that are critical to preparing a crew to successfully fly a mission and recover from unforeseen events, NASA officials said.

 A suite of simulators will be built to cover all parts of spaceflight. They will be shipped to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, where they’ll be joined to a full-size Starliner simulator so astronauts can practice handling situations from normal operations to unlikely emergencies.

About the Author

Derek Major is a former reporter for GCN.

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